The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Nov 9, 2013

Some Thoughts on Missions

 This is a somewhat less academic post than usual, but I wanted to challenge both myself and my readers with something a bit more practical (not that there should necessarily be a dichotomy between the academic and the practical!) I grew up on the mission field, and both my parents have served the Lord in Japan for roughly the past 30 years. Recently, I had the privilege of attending a memorial service for Becky Black, the wife of my doctoral advisor. I was very touched by the fact that featuring prominently at this event was her heavy involvement in foreign missions, both proclaiming and living the Gospel in foreign countries, as well as organizing missions trips overseas when she herself could not go.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, in one sense, the measure of a Christian’s life is the contribution he or she makes to the spread of the kingdom of God. This can take many forms, of course, and includes both service in the local church and involvement in missions.  Furthermore, circumstances may limit one’s contribution, though I would suggest that even those with significant health problems will still find ways to contribute. One lady who had Osteogenesis could barely leave her house, yet still prayed frequently, wrote a tract, financially supported my parents, and witnessed to the delivery boy who brought her groceries.

Thus I believe that everybody, in way or the other, can and should contribute to missions. Broadly speaking, missions could probably be defined as “the furtherance of the Gospel both in proclamation and in lifestyle, with the intent of pointing souls to Christ” (my own definition, for now; I’m positive there’s numerous better ones out there). Assumed here is the importance of both proclamation (preaching, witnessing, teaching) and living (good deeds, social action, kindness). Both go hand in hand. As defined thus, missions is the role of every Christian. In his recent booklet Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? (Gonzalez, Florida.: Energion, 2012), Dr. Black aptly states, “Don’t think for a moment that it is more honorable to go to seminary and become a pastor than it is to serve God faithfully as a nurse or a salesperson. Missions is the intended vocation for the whole people of God, no matter what your occupation may be” (p. 2; emphasis added).

In addition, mission beyond one’s immediate environment should also be a concern for every Christian. In other words, since it is through the Offspring of Abraham that all nations are to be blessed, since the nations (plural) are to benefit from the fruit of the tree of life (Revelation 22:2), and since Christ commanded the first disciples to “make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19, my translation), this is something that all Christians should be concerned with. Thus the Apostle Paul’s cry in Romans 10:14, “But how will they believe on the one they have not heard about? And how will they hear without a preacher?” should be a rebuke to all of us.

So how, then, does one participate in missions? It is, of course, worth pointing out that somebody who shows little concern for those around them, in their present location, can hardly expect to be effectively led by the Spirit to contribute to missions anywhere else! Thus Dr. Black writes, “We need to learn to view our employees, our co-workers, and our fellow students as our mission field” (p. 5). In addition, “immigrants and international students” also provide immense opportunities (p. 5). (And, may I dare suggest, that if we Americans spend less time whining about illegal immigrants and more time learning Spanish so we can speak to them about Christ, the church would greatly benefit?)

Having demonstrated a concern for those around you, there are a number of ways you can contribute to missions elsewhere. First of all, you can simply go. Not necessarily for your lifetime (though you should definitely be willing to do so), but take a missions trip and contribute, not as an “American” (or any other citizen) helping nationals, but as a fellow brother or sister serving alongside of Christians of another race (and a lot could be said here about the need for humility and willingness to learn from others!; the “ugly American” stereotype can sometimes rear its head amongst Christian ministers as well as tourists!) May I suggest that every Christian, at least once in his or her lifetime, needs to take a trip to some other country and serve alongside Christians of another race ministering to the lost? [as an aside, nationalism is an idol that has no place in missions; there is no such thing as a “American” missionary or an “Australian” missionary or a “South Korean” missionary; we are all representatives of that “holy nation” in 1 Peter 2:9, the church of Jesus Christ; may I suggest that Christians should be willing to sacrifice even their native citizenship if it means one more soul overseas can hear the Gospel?].

Secondly, prayer is extremely important and spoken of often in Scripture within the context of missions (e.g., 2 Corinthians 1:10-11). This assumes, of course, that one is actually paying attention to what is happening on places other than your own home country, especially to fellow believers. Sorry for the strong emphasis, but this is more of a problem that you would think. I think there’s a sad case of “missions illiteracy” among many of our churches.

Thirdly, one can give (and give sacrificially). Every little bit helps, and the Philippian church was especially commended for their sacrificial giving to Paul’s missionary work. If the widow can give her mite to the temple treasury, I think all Christians can give something to the ministry of those laboring overseas, especially when it means sacrificing a little comfort in their own home country, whether at their church building or in their local home. (see Black, pages 8-10 for more on this).

So anyways, hope that’s food for thought. This challenges me, since I know I can definitely be doing more on my end. May the Lord grant that each of us contribute better to the spread of his Kingdom in the future!

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