“Missions is not a physical structure we build; it’s a biblical foundation we cultivate.”
“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…” (Matthew 28:19). This verse in the Gospel of Matthew is probably the most popular verse when you think of missions. You see it on what seems like every short-term mission shirt. The problem with Western Christianity is that we have diluted this verse and created a sacred title that never existed in biblical times, the “Missionary.” We have said,“There are an elite few who are ‘called’ to missions, and everyone else is stuck in the mundane eight-to-five Monday through Friday job.” The beauty in this verse that we have failed to share is that this is an open command for all. Missions is not a call to a few, but it’s a command to all who believe. The main focus word in this scripture is not “GO.” It is “Make Disciples.” It doesn’t matter if you “GO” across the street or “GO” across the ocean. If you are making disciples, then you are fulfilling the Great Commission in Matthew 28.
Jeff the Missionary
There was a missionary named Jeff. He was a thirty-three-year-old guy who disguised his true calling as a missionary by working during the day for a large technology company. But at night and on the weekends, he would mentor a young man who had just given his life to Christ. On a regular basis, Jeff would travel miles through the jungle from village to village to meet this young man. They would study the Bible and memorize verses every week. At one point, they had a total of fifty-two verses memorized. They enjoyed serving together in Jeff’s village any chance they could. After a couple years of mentoring and discipleship, Jeff’s young friend moved to another country to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.
Wouldn’t you say that Jeff is the definition of a missionary? I know I would. I told this true story using certain words to make you imagine a guy walking a narrow dirt path, surrounded by overgrown trees, through the jungle in the Congo because in our culture, this is the only way that we see people as a “missionary.” What if I told you he was a salesman for IBM? What if I told you that the “jungle” he traveled through was the concrete jungle of Tulsa, Oklahoma? What if I told you that I was that young man that he would mentor and disciple? Jeff Moss is one of the most influential people in my life, and I will forever see him as a missionary. Just because you GO to another country doesn’t make you a missionary. Missions is not a trip you take, it’s a lifestyle you live. Be a missionary every day.
This next thing might bring back some horrific memories, and I apologize in advance. Travel back in time with me for a minute. Here I am in the fifth grade at recess time. I am lined up shoulder to shoulder with dozens of kids. There are two captains standing in front with the power to decide if you will play in this game of basketball or not. To everyone lined up, this was not “just a basketball game;” this was life. This was where the boys were separated from the men. If you were not chosen, you would be forced to play four square with the girls or tetherball with yourself because well, let’s be honest, no one likes tetherball. Here we stand sweating and full of doubt, wondering, “Will I be chosen today?” Sadly, probably like a lot of you, my days on the playground were not filled with memories of shooting the three-pointer to win the game. They were filled with trading Pokemon cards because I have never been good at basketball. I was so bad that even when my friends were captains, I would not be picked.
Unfortunately, this is how we see missions in the twenty-first century, but when you compare the great commission in Matthew 28 to my story, you realize this is far from the same thing. The Great Commission is the last thing you see in both the gospel of Matthew and Mark. This means that this is very important. Think about it. If someone asked you, “Do you have any last words?” you would think long and hard about it because this is one of the main things that people would remember.
Before going any further, please get your Bible and read the Great Commission. Welcome back. So here we are Jesus has been raised from the dead and he is imparting his last bit of wisdom to his disciples before ascending to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father. The Great Commission begins like this: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go” (Matthew 28:16). It’s important to pay attention to the fact that it says the “eleven.” This tells us that ALL of his original disciples were there (except Judas because he is dead). Unlike my playground story, Jesus did not line them up shoulder to shoulder and say, “Peter and John, I choose you to go make disciples. As for you, Thomas, you doubt too much so you can just go do what you did before I called you to follow me.” You don’t see this at all. He commanded them ALL to go make disciples of ALL nations. That means your nation, too. A mission trip is not when you get off a plane, it’s when you get out of bed.
At My Secular Job
Since moving to Haiti in January 2017, many opportunities have opened up to speak at churches and conferences, as well as grow the amount of time spent with pastors. It is common when talking about their past that these men would say, “Back in my secular job…” then they would talk about whatever topic was being discussed. That never sat well with me because without coming right out and saying it, in essence, they are saying that a job in the church is better or more important in the eyes of God than the realtor, teacher, store clerk, or lawyer. We as a church have tried to make it “easier” by saying that certain jobs are “sacred,” like your senior pastors, worship leaders, and youth pastors. And labeling others as “secular,” such as the jobs I listed above. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that the leaders in these roles are anointed and have been given authority over the church to lead it to Christ. That being said, I would like to push back on this idea of secular vs. sacred work. Let’s look at Genesis 3:
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’
And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’
‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ ” (Genesis 3:1-5)
In this passage, we notice some important things:
1. Moses is a shepherd.
2. Moses is leading his father-in-law’s sheep to the far side of the wilderness.
3. Moses sees a bush catch on fire and it is not burning up.
4. God tells Moses: “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is Holy Ground.”
If you don’t look close and understand the culture in which this event is taking place in this section of verses, you will miss something that is very important. Points one and two are important because if you know anything about shepherds, you would know that this would be a common route where Moses would take his sheep. This would lead us to the conclusion that Moses has walked past this bush and the land around it multiple times a week. So what is different about this day? Why is God saying,“Take off your shoes because you are on holy ground”? The thing that made that ground “sacred” rather than “secular” was the simple fact that the presence of God was there.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16, it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” This tells us that everywhere we go, the ground is no longer secular, but it is sacred. Not because of who we are but who lives in us. It is impossible for a follower of Christ to have a secular job because the very presence of God lives in us, and that is displayed through the Holy Spirit of God. We can no longer see our jobs as ordinary. We must see them as extraordinary opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20, it says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…” (emphasis mine). Over the years, I have read this verse many times, and I never really knew what it meant and never bothered to look it up. I kind of had an idea, but I did not understand the weight behind the word “ambassador”. According to dictionary.com, the word “ambassador” means: “A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative.” WOW, you might need to take a minute and let that sink in. The God of the universe says that YOU are a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent to represent heaven on the earth.
We can no longer believe the lie that our jobs are just a means to an end or a way to pay the bills. You are where you are right now on purpose because you have a purpose. Where you work is not your job; it’s your mission field. You are not just a teacher; you are a chosen instrument of God to show his love and character to the next generation. Repeat this out loud to yourself “I am not an ordinary (fill in the blank with your role or profession), I am a citizen of heaven sent by God on a diplomatic mission to share his love with (fill in the blank with your work place).