One thing I am encouraged by as I look across the landscape in the body of Christ is a fresh awakening among all of God’s people to live as Spirit-filled missionaries in their everyday lives. More and more, I am encountering groups of God’s people who are breaking out of the false ideas of the Missionary Mystique. The Missionary Mystique is the mistaken idea that missions are for a select number of unusual people called to go to faraway and strange places to reach the unreached people groups of the earth. These are the real missionaries, while the rest of us are relegated to a second-class Christianity. We work jobs, raise families, live in neighborhoods, and probably never travel out of our country.
God’s people are waking up to the reality that Jesus sends us all into this world as His missionaries EVERY DAY; EVERYWHERE; ALL THE TIME! You may not travel across the ocean, but you can travel across the street. Reaching the nations begins with reaching your neighbors. There are unreached people, both at the ends of the earth and at the end of your block, and Jesus sends us to them.
- John 17:18 (Jesus’ prayer for us before the cross) “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
- John 20:21-22 (Jesus’ commission after the resurrection) “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Matthew 28:18-19 As you go make disciples of all peoples.
Important Key to Effectiveness in Everyday Missions
- John 10:4-14 Shepherds go before the sheep…I am the Good Shepherd.
- Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. (Isaiah 45:2, 52:12, Exodus 13:21, 14:19, Deuteronomy 1:30, 33, Psalms 77:20, 136:15).
An essential key to being effective as we engage in God’s mission is our expectation of the fact that Jesus goes before us and we join Him in what He is already doing. Jesus consistently said that this was central to His mission while walking on this earth.
“The Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner….I can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:16-30, 8:26-32, 12:45-50, 14:9-10).
Jesus was successful in His mission because His Father went ahead of Him, and Jesus both expected and did what He saw His Father doing.
Our everyday mission is not trying to generate things by OUR INITIATIVE (which produces frustration). We seek to join God in WHAT HE IS ALREADY DOING (which results in life and peace).
The expectation of FAITH is essential for living in God’s design. We must live expecting God is moving and seek to join Him in it. Being EFFECTIVE corresponds to being EXPECTANT.
WE MUST NEVER ALLOW DISAPPOINTING OR SUB-SCRIPTURAL EXPERIENCES TO BECOME FALSE TRUTHS IN OUR LIVES THAT ERODE EXPECTANT FAITH.
We often have a problem with expectancy based on our experiences. We allow sub-scriptural experiences to become false truths in our lives. They constantly erode the expectancy of faith. His word alone is THE TRUTH and must be our guide. We live to see our experiences measure up to His word. We should never allow our sub-scriptural experiences to affect our mission like, “I prayed for so and so, and they didn’t get healed. I tried to bring up the gospel with a guy at work, and he didn’t receive it. That is probably what’s going to happen again, so why try?” The expectancy of faith refuses to accept that the future will look like any sub-scriptural past.
Unbelief can be as evil as adultery
I remember a speaker once saying something about faith that shocked me. He was going through the rebukes Jesus gave to His disciples about their unbelief (I have to admit that some of them seem pretty harsh). He talked about the average Christian’s concern with sins like lying, fornication, and adultery; then he said the shocker, “Unbelief is just as serious as the others, maybe more. Do you see your unbelief as bad as adultery?”
It was like a dagger going into my heart. I never considered unbelief as serious of a problem as fornication or adultery, but it is! Even if we avoid all other sins, what Hebrews says is true, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
Contrary to most popular “faith teachings,” Biblical faith is not about formulas as much as expectancy. Some of the clearest examples are those in the Gospels where Jesus commended people for their faith. There are eight occasions where this happened and taken together we see essential aspects of expectant faith that please God.
Eight People Jesus Commended for their Faith
- Blind Bartimaeus: “Go, your faith has healed you” (Mk 10:46-52; Lk 8:35-43).
- The woman with the issue of blood: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your suffering” (Mk 5:25-34; Mt 9:20-22; Lk 8:43-48).
- Four men bringing their paralyzed friend: “When Jesus saw their faith,” He immediately turned his attention to this man, forgiving his sins, and healing him” (Mk 2:1-12; Mt 9:1-8; Lk 5:17-26).
- A persistent Canaanite woman: The Canaanites were considered enemies of God’s people. “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted” (Mt 15:21-28).
- A prostitute: “Jesus turned to the woman saying, “Your sins are forgiven. . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Lk 7:36-50).
- The one leper out of ten who turned back to thank Jesus: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Lk 17:11-19).
- A Roman centurion requesting healing for his servant: The Centurion’s understanding of authority and thoughtfulness amazed Jesus so much that He made the most positive comment about faith, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Lk 7:2-10).
- Two blind men following and asking for healing: Jesus, seeing their persistence, finally asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this? They replied, “Yes.” He responded, According to your faith, will it be done to you. Their sight was restored at that moment (Mt 9:27-30).
The most surprising thing about these examples is that their faith had little to do with doctrinal knowledge or a sin-free life. They probably knew little about who Jesus was, were not living morally pure lives, and didn’t have a high level of what we would consider well-developed theology. What impressed Jesus was their faith, as they had an attitude of expectation that they would receive help from Him.
Five traits from these examples that we seek to emulate as we step out in our everyday mission.
- The BELIEF that God was good and somehow would do good for them. They saw Jesus as a source of help. Even when He seemed somewhat aloof, they believed Jesus was good and would do good things for them.
- They had a DETERMINATION to do whatever was necessary to get help from Jesus. Their faith wasn’t passive, but active. In six of these cases, they had to overcome obstacles (causing one to tear a hole in a roof to lower their paralyzed friend), social pressure, and stigma to approach Jesus.
- The belief that SEEKING HELP FROM JESUS would bring benefits. They didn’t have the attitude that they should seek Jesus with no hope for a benefit. They sought specific benefits (healing, etc), and believed, like Hebrews 11:6, that God would reward their faith.
- They DIDN’T MEASURE WHAT WAS POSSIBLE BY THEIR PAST.
- They had CONFIDENCE THAT JESUS COULD MEET THEIR SPECIFIC NEED. There was an optimism in them. It wasn’t a “hyper-faith, name it, claim it” mentality in which they created healing by exercising the right formula. They were DESPERATE and EXPECTANT that He would act if they made it to Him (Mt 9:28).
It is “impossible to please God without faith” (Heb 11:6). We can’t be neutral about unbelief any more than we can be in resisting sins like adultery.
Let’s continually follow Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), as He goes before us. Let’s renew our posture to not let any sub-scriptural experiences of the past override expectant faith for today as we engage in His mission.