Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Greatest Missionary Ever: Jesus Christ

Jesus knew His mission. He knew why the Father sent Him into the world. He aligned Himself with this mission. Everything that He did, everything that He taught, everything that is recorded of His life in the Gospels was focused on accomplishing the mission for which He was sent. At the end of His life and ministry, He prayed to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). Mission accomplished.

Jesus was a missionary. This application of the term missionary to Jesus Christ may sound strange, but Jesus exemplifies in the truest sense what it means to be a missionary. Most Christians understand that a missionary is one who has been sent with the gospel to a foreign people to lead them to faith in Christ and among other things, multiply disciples, and establish churches. Jesus was sent to earth by the Father with the gospel. He was not sent “to condemn the world, bur rather that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). He proclaimed the gospel, He made disciples, and He established His Church. Then, He sent His followers as missionaries with the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). He commanded them to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach obedience to all that He commanded (Matt 28:19–20). Jesus initiated a missionary movement! Every follower of Jesus instantly became a missionary—sent with the gospel message.

In evaluating Jesus’ mission, one must observe the pattern of Jesus. As He traveled among the villages, He trained His disciples to do what He was doing. Yet when He left, He summed up the mission He was giving to His disciples in the Great Commission in Matthew 28; that commission to make more and better disciples remains the mission of the Church today. As John Kaiser notes, “The object is not to find them, gather them, or improve them. The object is to make them.” (Winning on Purpose, 59)

Jesus sent every believer as a missionary with the gospel together in community with other Christians to visibly and incarnationally display and proclaim who Jesus is to those in the culture around them. Every Christian, like Jesus, is a missionary. Every neighborhood and workplace is a mission field. As Dick Hillis, missionary to Asia and founder of OC International (formerly Overseas Crusades) has said, “Every heart with Christ, a missionary; every heart without Christ, a mission field.” (“The Dick Hillis Story,” www.onechallenge.org)

Throughout the book of Acts, the Church is seen as the people of God “on mission”—sent by Jesus with the gospel in community to the culture! Essentially, the Church is a missionary Church! The Church is sent by Jesus! The Church is proclaiming the gospel! The Church is making disciples! The Church is on mission!

Everyone who is a committed follower of Jesus has been sent by Jesus on mission to reach those around you for Christ! Missions does not begin across an ocean or on the other side of the world. According to Acts 1:8, it starts across the street (in “your” Jerusalem). Every church needs to be a missionary church. Every Christian needs to recognize that Jesus sent you with other believers to bring the gospel of Christ to your culture, to your neighborhood, to all of your zip code and beyond!

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