On Mission, part 1
Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
Last night I listened to a testimony of a lady well into her 80’s who has served God as a missionary for over 50 years in Mulita, in the DRC. Her name is Maud Kells. Her passion and love for Jesus and the people of the DRC was inspirational. Mission is her life for sure. It has consumed her.
This morning I wake to this first verse of chapter 10 in Luke. It is an exciting chapter as Jesus sends out 72 disciples on a short term mission that will most probably lead for the majority a life time of service in mission to God. They didn’t go overseas, being a missionary is to go where HE sends you and that may well be locally. (The further you go then everything just becomes magnified especially the sacrifice). But they went. I love reading about missions, biographies of missionaries, past and present, cross-cultural understanding, nations and extreme tribes, the unreached people groups etc. However, I am totally ruined by what I see of the sending God in the Bible. It seems He is on every page! And as I read this wonderful verse my mind is filled with these thoughts:
‘After this …’ We already know that Jesus has just spoken about the cost of following him and that no one who puts his hand to the plough and then gives up is fit for the kingdom of God. Being a missionary will cost you. When you buy something it costs you, but actually it doesn’t because you’re getting something and so when you sit down and you watch your television you’re not thinking ‘oh this costs me’, no you’re just enjoying your television. On mission its 100% continual cost. And you may not realise the benefits that’s going to come to you but the benefit that perhaps some will look for is not the benefit you’ll get. It will cost you financially, your time, it will ruin your life, it will change the course of your life, you’ll never be the same again, and you will become a pain to those people who don’t understand missions. There’s only a very small minority that ever come back and say do not ever put me in a mission context ever again. The majority say ‘I’ve just got to go again; I’ve just got to be there again’. They’ve caught something. They are willing to pay the cost.
The Lord appointed. He’s chosen you. You know it doesn’t matter where you go, he’s chosen you. He’s chosen you to himself. Some are chosen for a people group or a nation and out roots down, learning the language, becoming established in that people group, others move all over the world. But I believe what is so important to realise is that 100% of the time that God calls us to himself. He appoints us to walk with Him and we work out of that Presence, we go into missions out of His heart for the world, we go because we have understood His mind for missions, which is to go into all the world. Can you imagine what it must have been like for those 72 people? Jesus came up to them and say ‘it’s you, it’s you. I’m choosing you’. There were hundreds of people he could have chosen, ‘I’ve chosen you’. What were these 72 thinking? Maybe they were thinking how we think now when we feel God has appointed us. “You don’t know me, you don’t know about what I’ve done, you don’t know about how insecure I am, you don’t know that I can’t really speak, you don’t know how nervous I get.” But that’s of course not true! He knows everything there is to know. He knows what you’ve done and He knows who you are and He knows your incapability and He knows what you cannot do and He says,’ You’ll do. You are perfect. I can use you. I’m choosing you’, incredible isn’t it?
He told them to go two by two. Can you imagine if they tried to swap who they had been put with?! Now of course many today go out on mission alone but the point is that once they arrive they do all they can to build or join a team. Even those in the unreached groups focus on finding the person of peace so that they can move ahead in mission. Can you imagine if one of the 72 said, “can I go on my own, I don’t like these people?’ Mission is people and actually if you don’t like people there is a problem. Mission is about that, you’ve got to be a people person, you have to love others. Whether or not you are an introvert or an extrovert, it matters not, you must love people enough to desire to engage with them.
Being sent means you are under orders and we serve better under accountability of the one who sent us. There are a lot of lone-rangers out there, it seems like everybody wants to do their own thing because they believe that God has spoken to them to do their own thing. If it comes out of the attitude of ‘I just want to be in charge’ then it is the wrong attitude. Sent is not being dismissed nor is it some falling out of Church. Sent is mission with orders that have to be accounted for.
AHEAD OF HIM
Jesus said where he was about to go, you see it’s HIS mission. It is not our mission or whatever name we are connected with who supports us. It is HIS. He’s been on mission for a redeemed people of God from creation and he’s still doing it. There are amazing stories of people finding Christ. Muslims, Hindus, animists are finding Christ on just sheer revelation of Jesus appearing to them. God is doing this and he doesn’t need us because if he’s doing it he could just do more of it but he invites us to join him because it’s fun. What a lovely way to spend our time in earth, being part of the mission of God. Isn’t it wonderful? Maybe today, wherever you are in the world, it is an invitation you have already responded to. Something happened in your heart, a desire, a connection a while ago or maybe just recently but you just said to the Lord, “I want to join you on this”. It’s going to be very difficult for you to leave this path of mission. That’s why I use the words ‘I’m ruined’. My story is that when I became a pastor in 1992 I had no interest for missions work. I remember taking my church youth leaders to Manchester airport as they went off on mission to Zambia. It was 1993 and they still remind me today as I said to them on that car journey, “you’ll never ever see me in Africa”. I had no desire. Then in the year 2000 my friend invited me to join him going overseas on a short mission. Guess where I went? It was Zambia! I came back totally changed. It’s amazing how God uses people to change you, especially in a different culture. I went and I didn’t realise at the time I was on HIS mission. But when you join him in HIS mission it actually becomes as much about transformation of your life as it does about other people’s lives. It’s his mission.