In 2001, I attended Urbana in Urbana-Champagne, Illinois. It was winter, and it was quite cold. During the conference we were challenged by the speakers about giving our lives to the cause of missions. My mom had given me some money which was for food. It was nearing the end of the conference and it came time to give an offering. As the speaker spoke about this, I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit to give all the money I had. It was a real struggle for me at this time. I knew that I would be okay if I gave up my money, but I didn’t know if it was the right choice. I continued to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and I ended up giving every cent I had in my wallet at that conference. To this day I don’t regret that decision.
My point here is it is in the little things where we are challenged to be faithful to the Lord. Whether we are walking down the street or are at a conference far from our homes, every single Christian is a missionary. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter”.
Recently, I’ve been going on daily walks, typically for several miles. During my walks, I spend significant time in prayer. One of the main focuses of my prayer-time has been for those who are being persecuted around the world. The Bible teaches us to pray for our brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution. We live in challenging times and to combat the trials and evils of this world, Christian men and women must be willing to step out of their comfort zones and boldly proclaim their faith in the sovereign grace of God.
When I went on my first mission trip to Mexico, I was forced to step outside my comfort zone and when I did so my eyes were open to the poverty all around me. I saw how people were suffering not only because of drug cartels, but also because of the poverty in which they were forced to live. Despite their circumstances, however, they were happy. Their happiness was infectious and convicting, and once again I was being convicted as my heart began to understand the reason why.
Perhaps today your eyes need to be opened. God has a global mission program, and that program includes you. The local church is the hope of the world. God’s plan and design is to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways for His purposes. Before He can do this, however, He often chooses to humble a man to use in this endeavor. Look at the Apostle Paul; consider Joseph who although he resisted Potiphar’s wife’s advance was thrown into jail; and consider Daniel who was taken out of his homeland and moved to Babylon where he rose to great heights of power because of the Lord’s sovereign plan for him. Most importantly consider Jesus who suffered injustice and yet never sinned. Jesus, however, is not only a good example to His people, He is their Lord, Savior, King, Priest, God, Intercessor, High Priest and Advocate. All of the great men and women who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel pale in comparison to Jesus. All over the Middle East and Asia men and women are giving their lives for the gospel. They have counted the cost and decided to follow Jesus all the way to death. This is what the Christian life is all about—not only a way of death, but to a certain kind of death—death to self which brings glory to God. As John Owen once said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
The reason we can participate in mission work is because the Lord has a global mission plan that includes us in the context of both the local and world-wide church. Whether or not you choose to go overseas (or to another country) is irrelevant. Right outside your door are people who are lost and need the hope that is in Jesus Christ. Inside of your local church are struggling brothers and sisters in Christ who need your prayers, encouragement, and care. Men, inside the walls of your house are your children, who need you to lead them. Men, wives need us to lead them towards Jesus on a daily basis.
The call to discipleship is not a call to a life of ease and comfort, my friends; no, it’s a call to radically follow Jesus not just to the cross, but to death. You see, Jesus died not only so our sins could be forgiven, but so that we could put to death our sin and grow in Him. This is what mature godly growth in Christ is about—it’s about refusing to make excuses for why you’ve become complacent or stagnant in Christ, and repent. It’s about participating in the Church body by becoming a member and being submissive to the biblical leadership of the local church. It’s about being a disciple, committed to obeying and living under the teaching of the Bible. Are you that kind of disciple? Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Or are you still making excuses for why you aren’t growing? I encourage you today to stop making excuses, start following Jesus in all of life by finding a good Bible teaching church, and becoming a member. Don’t just sit in the pew; get involved in the lives of those around you, encouraging them to follow Jesus all the more, even as they do the same with you. Trust me, you’ll find as you do this that you’re growing, not only in knowledge of the Word, but also in discipleship with fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus. Practicing discipleship will also spur on your growth further, and fan the flames in your heart for God’s global purposes—to use His people and His church to expand His fame to the nations.