Jenny and Joe are back. Don’t talk to them about ministry or what happened after six months in Kuala Lumpur. They’re hurting right now and it will take some time for them to settle. They left with a banquet and profound expectations they returned bankrupt their confidence dashed.
Acts 13:2,3-- As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
Growing up in a Christian environment I often remember hearing preachers or ministry leaders implore their listeners to leave their homes and go out as missionaries. The proof text used was Matthew 28:19, “Go, therefore, and make disciples ofall nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” To be a missionary was the ultimate mark of commitment to Jesus. But I wonder if we have not taken Jesus’ exhortation to His eleven disciples out of context. Jesus’ strategy to reach the world specifically involved the spiritual reproduction of His called and trained apostles. His words were not a blanket endorsement to every future follower to hop a donkey to Delhi to make disciples.
The early church did not jump to the conclusion that they were to be missionaries to the world. It took persecution and direct leading by the Holy Spirit to get them going. There was no automatic assumption, “O I’m supposed to take the gospel and travel.” Instead there was a humble (and perhaps fearful), sense of waiting on God for instruction as to how to proceed in ministry. It was in the context of worshiping God that Paul and Barnabas were set apart by the Holy Spirit to be missionaries.
If our Lord has not called us to missions to embark is both presumptuous and dangerous. I wonder if the high rate of casualties (missionaries that go but don’t last long on assignment) is not a reflection of going for the wrong reasons. If we go because our emotions are aroused for the plight of the poor, our focus is not on God but the needy and we soon become overwhelmed. If we go because an organization asks us to, but we have no such leading from the Lord, our trust is in the wisdom of the organization and we should not be surprised if the assignment is a misfit and fiasco. If we go because of guilt that someone has to do it, when times get rough we are set up to resent God. If we go because we feel qualified and have the right credentials we are predisposed to pride and an unsightly fall.
With a specific calling from the Holy Spirit and the support of a body of believers that recognizes the calling and their responsibility to support the missionary we may leave in faith with God’s blessing. No matter what opposition arises or hardships occur, we may have peace that we have ministry because of His mercy and we need not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1). Are you called? Respond in obedience. Are you confused? Wait until the Lord speaks. Are your priorities straight? Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul! It is not the call but the Caller we worship!
©2001 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)