Mention you were called to missions a generation ago, and many in the church would assume you were called to serve in Africa, South America or some other foreign land. If your calling landed you overseas, you were considered among God’s elite.
An International Mission Board missionary, serving in a high-risk region of the world, recently challenged a group of Oklahoma Baptists to be cautious about placing missionaries on a ministry pedestal. “We are all called to be missionaries,” he explained. “God has called every Christian to be on mission and to make disciples wherever they are. It is the command of the Great Commission.” We couldn’t agree more.
All too often, church members rely on the pastor, church staff and career missionaries to do the work of the Gospel. Every Christian must come to the realization that it is their calling to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. The responsibility of telling the Gospel story is a shared responsibility. It cannot be delegated. To do so would be an act of disobedience in direct conflict with Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”
The same missionary challenged his audience to S.E.E. every day as an opportunity to be used by God as a missionary. “Ask God to give you Spirit eyes and Spirit ears as you interact with people throughout the day,” he said. When we begin seeing the world as God sees and hears the world, we will have no problem recognizing that we are all missionaries called by God to fulfill His mission regardless of our titles, occupations or roles in life. The key to living a missionary lifestyle is to recognize the calling God has placed on every Christian and S.E.E. the world as Christ does, with spiritual eyes and ears.
In America, we have tended to utilize mass evangelism to bring the Gospel harvest. This approach has served us well as millions have come to know Christ through crusades, revivals and stadium-size events. No doubt these approaches will continue to have their place, but with post-modernism on the rise, a new generation of God skeptics are becoming more and more suspicious of institutions and organized religion. The role of the individual Christ follower in the life of a lost person is becoming more and more critical. We must recognize the role we have been called to play in the lives of those God has placed us near.
The harvest is as plentiful as ever before. The wheat field of souls still remains, but we must also recognize many of the lost are found in orchards. Using a combine to harvest in an orchard would prove devastating and ineffective. Harvest in an orchard is a slower, more personal process. Each piece of fruit must be inspected in order to determine its condition. The key is to pick the fruit and reap the harvest at the optimum time. Harvesting with spiritual eyes and spiritual ears becomes all the more important. The personal touch, combined with the Spirit’s leading brings the Harvest in due time. Every Oklahoma Baptist is called to be a missionary equipped with spiritual eyes and spiritual ears. Each season brings different opportunities. At times, we are called to prepare the soil. Planting the gospel seed is often our role. Reaping the harvest according to God’s timing is our privilege, and making disciples is a calling we all share as missionaries for the King.