What does the title ‘missionary’ make you think of?
Perhaps this photo resonates with the idea of a missionary for you: someone who travelled a long way to set up schools, orphanages, churches, or other social works.
Or perhaps you think of someone with an incredible devotion to God and nearly as impressive a beard, like this man:
Closer to home, it’s likely your church has a missions noticeboard or similar, which shares information about what members of your congregation are doing overseas.
All these are really great, and it’s wonderful to see the sacrifices people are (or have been) willing to make to serve God all over the world and see his kingdom built. Still, sometimes we can forget how important it is to encourage everyone to do mission everywhere that we are.
Mission doesn’t have to be big or scary, like battling through the jungle, facing malaria, or mediating between warring tribes. Mission at its simplest is sharing God’s love with others. David Bosch, the missionary-theologian who wrote the book on mission sums it up like this: “[Mission] is the good news of God’s love, incarnated in the witness of a community, for the sake of the world”.
It’s really important to support our overseas missionaries, as well as those who work in churches in this country, but it’s also important to not forget that mission is something all Christians are called to. The two greatest commandments are to love God, and to love those around you (Matthew 22:36-40), and mission, as Bosch said, is about loving those around us.
- Mission can be as simple as stopping to chat with someone (friend or not) who needs a listening ear
- Mission is loving those in our communities (neighbourhoods, churches, workplaces) and sharing each others’ burdens
- Mission is prayerfully discerning where God is already at work around you, and seeking to join him in building his kingdom
It took me a long time to get over the missionary-hero complex I had from reading about people doing great things for God, past and present. Even after spending eleven months working for a church overseas I was still reluctant to call myself a missionary! But the truth is all us followers of Jesus are called to take part in the great commission and be missionaries, by seeking to build God’s kingdom wherever we are.
Where is your mission field? How can you share the good news of God’s love with some of the people in your life?