I do not believe being a missionary is a choice. I do not believe that was an option Jesus gave his followers. And I do believe that if the disciples could see Christians today, they would wonder why that’s a common misconception in our society.
At the end of Matthew, Jesus commands his disciples to do some stuff after he leaves. A lot of us know this as The Great Commission. If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry, I had no idea what it was until my first semester of Christian college.
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
Like I said, I don’t think Jesus put exceptions on this. “Go out and make disciples of all nations EXCEPT if you work a nine to five job, then that’s your job so leave disciple making up to the pastors.” As silly as that sounds, a lot of people think this way. Its kind of hard not to think this way.
Before I felt like I should go to Lee University to study Missions, I just thought that being a missionary was for someone else. I always thought that it could be something I could do maybe once a year or on occasion but I never thought of my life revolving around this sort of idea. I believed that Jesus wanted me to tell others about him but it was kind of like separating church and state. There was your church life and then there was your regular life where you had a job and made money and made Daddy less worried about your well being. I was blinded by what I had always been told. I also had the wrong idea of what a missionary was. And maybe you do too.
Although I am going to school to get a degree in Intercultural studies (Missions) and hopefully one day live in another country telling people about Jesus everyday…I have no idea what God is going to do with me. God could tell me tomorrow to change my major to business and work on Wall Street (Just so everyone knows, God would never say this because I am not smart enough and he knows this lol). The point I’m trying to make here is not everybody is going to be an Intercultural Studies major or live in Africa running a non-profit so how is everyone a missionary?
The cool thing about this passage in Matthew is that Jesus only gave a few specifics. These are the most important things to remember but it leaves room for how you can do this.
Jesus said to go make disciples everywhere.
He said to make sure they obey all his commands.
And He said to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son & Spirit.
I’m convinced that what’s stopping Christians from doing this is thinking that this passage is only meant for Cross-Cultural Missionaries. In reality, Jesus commanded this of all who follow him. I’m also convinced that every single person is unique and exceptional. Every single person has a gift God has given them and a specific opportunity in their life RIGHT NOW to share the good news about Jesus to those around them that don’t know.
You are a missionary.
And your nine to five job, your classroom, your neighborhood, your community… these are all your mission field.
My dad is a really good kick boxer. And he’s an even better teacher. I’m convinced that he could use all his resources, with the support of many in the community, to open a gym in the inner city of our hometown to teach kickboxing and love kids who don’t know what love looks like. This could be his mission field.
My mom is amazing with kids and an amazing mom. I can see her welcoming single mothers into her home to play with their kids and encourage those who need love and support and maybe just a friend. This could be her mission field.
My friend Molly is great at preaching. And sometimes in our hometown, she shares the gospel with middle schoolers at our church. I believe that she could do this everywhere. That she could preach the gospel to everyone around her and even to the middle schoolers in our college town. This could be her mission field.
I don’t say this to call everyone out for not doing things, but to encourage those who think that you have to live in another country to be a missionary. And I’m not outside of this. Just because I’m studying the bible everyday doesn’t give me a pass to not be a missionary in my community now. I also say these things to remind Jesus followers that God has already equipped you in unique ways to love and share the gospel with those around you. And what encourages me the most from this passage in Matthew is the very end…”I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We’re not alone, friends.