Monday, April 30, 2012

What Are Missions? - Pastor Craig Frazier

            As Christians we are all called to live a life of response to what He as done for us and submitting to His kingship over us.  One of the things which we are called to do is to do the work of missions.  However there has been much confusion among Christians in what this work entails. 
One mistake that many make is that they believe that missions just involves telling people about Jesus.  This is not the picture that the Bible gives us.  Jesus did not only teach people about God but He also cared for their earthly needs as well.  When the Apostle Paul went to a town on his missionary journeys he served the people as well as telling them about Christ.  This makes good sense to do this.  The old saying is very true “People do not care what you know until they know how much you care.”  When we meet the needs of those who are in need they are more likely to listen to the message of Jesus.  But while this make’s good sense, and while it is the model in the Bible, we are to do this because Christ commands us to.  In Matthew 25:31-46 we are told to lovingly serve those who are in need, such as the naked (those in material need), the sick, the hungry, and those in prison.  Jesus says that when we do He sees it as we are directly doing it to Him.
The other mistake is that many believe that missions is, or can, be just about meeting people’s earthly needs.  Those who think this often do from a very good heart.  They love their fellow man and it hurts them to see others in need.  They want to help, it is part of their DNA.  However, just fixing people’s needs does not qualify for missions.  We are to do acts of mercy towards others.  And every time we do so we do not have to tell them the Gospel.  But, for the work to be considered “missions” we must include the Gospel.  This is the complete work of missions.  Read the command of Christ in the Great Commission, Matthew 28: 18-20, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”  We seek to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those around us.  We seek to make this life better as well as offer eternal life in Heaven with Christ.  We seek to obey Christ.

This is not easy.  In fact, this is very hard for us.  First, many who are lost do not want to hear about Jesus being the only way.  Second, we all have fear of being rejected.  Many of us have received unpleasant responses when we have shared the Gospel.  But, we have done it and we are all now stronger for doing so.

So how can we, as God’s people, share our faith in Jesus Christ with those that we know are not Christians?  First, we pray for them.  We pray that God would soften their hearts, that God would send people into their lives to share Christ, and that they would respond in faith and grow in their new faith.  The Bible says that nothing is impossible for God, Luke 18:25-27.  Turning to Christ is hard and we should ask God to help since all things are possible with Him.

Next we seek for ways to share Jesus.  On way that is easy is to invite them to church with you.  Offer to pick them up and take them out to lunch afterwards.  They will hear the Gospel and you can answer any questions that they might have. 

            Another way is to talk to our friends ourselves about Jesus.  This is hard because we are not only putting our possible rejection on the line, but we are putting that friendship on the line as well.  I will be honest and say that non-Christians have ended friendships with their Christian friends because they shared the Gospel with them.  But we cannot refrain from doing this.  Listen to the words of a committed atheist on this.  Penn Jillette, of the magic show Penn & Teller, said this.
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I would tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
If we truly love our friends how can we not share the Gospel with them?

            So how do we go about doing this?  We ask.  We listen.  We ask to speak to them about our spiritual beliefs.  We do not have the right to make them listen, so we need to ask for it.  We then ask them what they believe.  We affirm and admire what we can about what they believe is right.  Think about it, what religion does not think that human beings are not the way they are supposed to be?  Every religion has the concept of sin.  We then build from what we agree on to the Gospel.  Jesus never said this would be easy.  But he did say that he would be with us when we do it.  In the Great Commission we are commanded as His people to do this.  Then he immediately follows it with that he would be with us until the end of the age.

            [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

May we do this in obedience to Christ’s command and for our love of our friends who are lost.

     Pastor Craig Frazier

Pastor Craig Frazier has recently left youth ministry to become the associate pastor at Zion Evangelical in Millstadt Illinois, a church that is 176 years old.

Image by Leaping Lizard


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