That was the statement our friend Biscuet (he also talked about this great story here) made in his message this morning, no one is actually “called to missions”. Although this truth rarely seems to be stated in the American church, it is stated in scripture throughout the Bible but most recognizably in the last verse in Matthew. Jesus was not giving us a suggestion here, it was a definitive statement for His message to reach all nations and to have a heart for those who are living a Spiritually dead life.
Sometimes our Americanized version of missions is to see who is “called to missions” then send them on a sort of mission vacation to a vaguely understood culture, and see what kind of impact can be made. This might be an exaggerated cynical statement, but those of us who profess Jesus as their Savior are called to a worldwide missionary life. We are certainly not all called to China like Biscuet but we are called to be missional.
I happen to be reading a passage in a book last night that put this in context. I am about half way through God’s Passion for His Glory by John Piper which is written in two parts; the first part is a biography on Jonathan Edwards, the second part is The End for Which God Created the World by Edwards himself (see also my essay on Edwards famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Historical Look at It’s Preachability in the 21st Century). Many don’t associate Edwards with missions but he spent many years working directly with Native American Indians in the 18th century. In speaking about Edwards, Piper talks about privatism in religion and says:
The worst form [of privatism] is with evangelicals who think they are publicly- and socially- minded when the have no passion for missions of perishing people without the gospel that alone can give eternal life, and without a saving knowledge of the Light of the world who can transform their culture. So the first message of Jonathan Edwards to modern evangelicals about our public lives is: Don’t limit your passion for justice and peace to such a limited concern as the church-saturated landscape of American culture.
Lift up your eyes to the real crisis of our day: namely, several thousand cultures still unpenetrated by the gospel, who can’t even dream of the blessings we want to restore.
No graphic that I have seen more emphasizes this as the one below from the IMB called You are the Light of the World. I first saw this in poster form in bslash’s office one day and it has stuck with me since that day. The dark places in the world, even 2,000 years after Matthew 28:19 was spoken, are large, and on every continent. Biscuet pointed out today that we, as American’s, can no longer take the Message effectively to a Moslem nation, but we can invest in people who can, like the people in China, but before we can make a huge step (like living in China or Hong Kong), we must be willing to take many many smaller steps and be open to following our Leader, Jesus.