Our Living God has Called Everyone to Missions
by Lisa Morris
(Hillsboro, North Dakota, US)
I was raised in a middle-class suburb in Minnesota, lived for almost 20 years in western Montana, seven years in Alberta, and am now in North Dakota. I've lived on two reservations, a Bible College campus, and three small towns. I have been the birth mother to five, adoptive mother to one, adopted mother of one, custodial mother to three, and stepmother to an additional four members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. I have also earned a B.A. in Christian Ministries, a Diploma of Bible and Missions and an Associate of Science Degree - (I've been a Registered Nurse.)
The Great Commandment is that we Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind." This Great Command plays out in the Great Commission; a vital role in our expression of love for God.
The Bible begins with the first eleven chapters in Genesis introducing the Universe, then Adam, father of the human race, and finally Abraham, father of the chosen race. In the first three chapters, God moves quickly from creation of all things to our rebellion and his judgment. The next eight chapters describe the destructive results of our fall.
Gen. 12:1-3 comes at this critical juncture when society is deteriorating.
This is the earliest point in the Bible where God states His missionary purpose. The Lord, speaking to Abraham, said, "Leave your country, your people, and your father’s people and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse: and all people’s on earth will be blessed through you."
God’s whole purpose is summarized here in the most unifying verses of Scripture.
God’s promise to make Abraham’s name great was a response to man’s attempts to make his own name great at the Tower of Babel. Significance doesn’t come from creating our own prestige, but from being a blessing to others. That’s our purpose.
Scripture following Genesis 12:1-3 continues to emphasize the promise. God wants us to serve through loving obedience and Abraham freely obeyed in faith when he left his father’s people and went into the world. Following Chapter 12, the promise is repeated in Gen. 18:18 and in Gen. 22, where Abraham again shows faith by offering his son to the Lord. Immediately after, in verses 16-18, God declares that because of this obedience, he will bless Abraham and make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. He adds, “through your offspring all nations on earth will be Blessed because you have obeyed me."
This promise is repeated to Jacob in Genesis 26:4 and 28:14 and is intertwined throughout the rest of the Bible. Examples include:
Ex 19:4-6, "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (What does it mean to be priests but to minister to others?)
Matthew 28: 18-20, -- The Great Commission -- "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Missionary scholars equate this to ministering in your home community, in a close or similar community, or in a completely different culture.
God’s gift of salvation for all people is evidenced in Ruth, Isaiah, and many other books. The Bible is not a collection of unrelated stories for enriching our personal lives; it’s a clear message of God’s ultimate intent.
Jonah is an example of how NOT to do it. One of God’s people, but lazy and self-centered, he had no heart for the Gentiles. He was angry when God showed Nineveh mercy and did his best to evade God’s wishes. Chapter 4:1-4 shows us that the greatest hurdle for Jonah to overcome wasn’t the sailors, big fish or even Nineveh, but his own attitudes. Jonah is an example to those who want the benefit of Christianity but none of the responsibility.
On the other hand, Paul was motivated by hope that God would be glorified among the nations. In Romans 15:8, Paul writes, "For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God…"
We need to see ourselves for who we are: God’s servants, working together in Christ for His purposes and glory.
Questions it brought to my mind...
If God hasn’t told you NOT to disciple, then the mandate to disciple stands. If we agree that this is mandatory for our lives, we need to step forward. God has given each of us gifts to fulfill the specific role He has for us. So is He is calling you to serve as a worker, a support person, a financial contributor, or to pray for the workers on the field? If He is calling you out as a worker, is He calling you to work in your hometown Jerusalem, or in a similar "Samaria" community, or in a completely different land at the ends of the Earth?
My closing prayer...
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Rom. 12:1