Why would anyone want to be a missionary, Part 1


Why would anybody want to be a missionary? While planting churches as missionaries for 10 years, Dana and I lived high up on the plateaus of inner Asia. It was so cold for so much of the year that we would leave our laptops or computers in the refrigerator to keep them when we would go to the city for the weekend because the liquid crystals in the screen would freeze. So we would put our computers in the refrigerator knowing that that would keep them warm and safe. I think of John Ensor and his wife, Kristen, who have been to Asia many times and on some of those trips they have been detained, they have been questioned by police, they have even been arrested. Why in the world would anybody want to subject themselves to that? We are not talking about the worst of it either. In II Corinthians, Paul writes about his far greater labors with more imprisonments, countless beatings, and his experiences of often being near death:

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the 40 lashes, less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I was adrift at sea on frequent journeys in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers in coil and hardship through many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst, often without food, in the cold, and apart from other things, there is the daily pressure of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I’m not weak?” (v. 24-29a).

Why would anybody want to subject themselves to something like that? Passion Life is an extremely unique organization in that we sit right at the intersection of pro-life work and international mission. You will not find very many truly international, pro-life missionary organizations. And so I asked the question one more time. Why would anybody want to be a missionary?

Well, I’m going to do a series, if you will, over these opening couple of weeks for me about why anybody would want to be a missionary. Today’s answer to that question is a missionary God and his book; the Bible is a missionary book. What do I mean by that? I mean that God’s heart for reconciling all the peoples of the Earth to Himself through Jesus Christ, runs from the first page of scripture to the last page of scripture. I think it was Jay Vernon McGee who said the Bible begins in Genesis chapter 12 and the first 11 chapters of the book are an introduction. Now that doesn’t minimize the importance of the introduction. I read the introduction to all the books that I read, but what he means is the Bible begins with the story of Abram or Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. In the first couple of books, you have the creation, the Fall, the Table of Nations, the Tower of Babel and people being dispersed all over the face of the earth, and then comes the character of Abram or Abraham. The rest of the Bible unfolds off of how God uses Abraham to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth. In Genesis chapter 12, God says, “I’m going to bless you, Abram, and your family. I’m going to bless you and whoever blesses you, I’m going to bless. Whoever curses you, I’m going to curse. And you are going to become a blessing to all the families, all the people, all the nations of the earth.” If you haven’t noticed, everything that happens in scripture is about God blessing his people, his chosen people, the Israelites, the Jewish nation, and later on the church that is redeemed to bless all the nations

of the Earth. It was always his plan to be a missionary God. We read in the Old Testament, David kills Goliath. That was a missionary event. I don’t know if you have ever thought of it that way. David says, “Today I’m gonna feed the beast your carcass to the beast of the earth and of the air. And all the world will know that there is a God in Israel.” It was a missionary God that was going to bless David, who was of Abraham’s offspring. He was going to bless him so that all the people in the earth would want to know who the God of Israel is and want to serve the God of Israel. So he blessed them, not because he loved them more, not because he wanted to give them special favors just because they were great, he blessed them with the responsibility of being a blessing to other people.

I don’t know if you have ever noticed this but the plagues in Egypt were a missionary event. This is from Exodus chapter nine, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go so that they may serve me for this time. I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants, and your people so that you may know that there is none like me in all the Earth.’” God says, by now, I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose, I have raised you up to show my power so that my name may be proclaimed in all the Earth. It is a theme that runs through scripture. God is using his people and what he does through his people to show all the peoples on the earth how great he is to them. Also to show all peoples how to know him, love him, and serve him. Everything that God does to bless people is done so that people will know him. Then you get into the New Testament with Jesus living a life that breaks all the norms for the Jews and makes his ministry available to the Gentiles. You have got the theology of Romans and Galatians showing how God is using us, his chosen people in Christ, to be the spiritual offspring now of Abraham. Father Abraham had many Sons, many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you. We’ve been brought into the lineage of Abraham so that we now will be blessed and used by God to show all the nations of the earth who he is. In I Peter chapter two, it says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people who have been set aside for God’s own possession. So that for this purpose you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light” (v. 9).

Why do I go into all this? Because we at Passion Life Bleed missions are 100% committed to pro-life ministry and we realized that the Gospel of Christ finds its most fertile ground in people that have a desperate need beyond their capabilities to control. It is outside themselves. They cannot meet that need or fix that problem in their life. They need something powerful to come into their lives and rescue them. The gospel finds fertile ground in those areas. When we find women in abortion crisis or when we find people in a crisis of pregnancy where they cannot figure out what to do with their tremendous problem, that is an opportunity for the gospel and the witness of the Holy Spirit to fill us with passion to serve and love those women.

Life is a missions organization and we are missionaries to the people and the places of the earth that have the greatest need to see reconciliation and salvation through Jesus Christ. Why would anybody want to be a missionary? Our answer today is that our God is a missionary God

and his book, the Bible, is a missionary book. We are on mission with God and we invite you to be on that mission with us today. Maybe your response will be just to sign up for the Passion Life newsletters where you can follow us on where we are going around the world or where God has taken us. Next week I’ll be in Colombia. We’ll be teaching pastors how they equip their people to become an army of good Samaritans on the lookout in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces, or in their communities for women in crisis pregnancies. They can serve those women, those men, those families, and use those opportunities to also preach the gospel and to proclaim the excellencies of God who called us out of darkness and into marvelous light. Sign up for our newsletters and follow us around the world. Join what we call the Passion Life Fellowship, and we’ll look forward to our next series on why would anybody want to be a missionary?

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