In the first entry in this category, Kevin laid an excellent foundation for continued discussion. In his post, Kevin communicated a truth that most of us are aware of, though we tend to suppress in our minds, in part because our insufficiency in the area of disciplemaking is often laden with guilt. As we continue to discuss living life “on mission”, we hope to throw off that guilt and complacency and get going on the mission Jesus has left for us.
Kevin argued rightly that the Great Commission of Jesus (“make disciples”) is not an optional thing that some are called to, but rather it’s a command given to all those that would follow Him. In this post, I would like to begin to flesh out HOW we can live our lives on mission, advancing His Gospel to those who don’t know Jesus.
JESUS AND HIS INCARNATION AS OUR EXAMPLE
In one of my favorite books of the Bible, we read…
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1-4, 14).
From this passage, we see that Jesus, who has eternally existed as part of the trinity, was with God in heaven and left heaven, became flesh, and lived among us in this fallen world with all of its problems. This is what theologians call the “incarnation” which literally means “to become flesh”. This is the wonderful miracle that we celebrate at Christmas. God has come… in the flesh like us… to save.
It is from this that we get what should be the primary method of living our lives as missionaries to the people God has placed in our lives.
Hudson Taylor (a good guy to name your son after) was a missionary to China who realized that if he took on Chinese dress and culture, then the Chinese were more receptive to the Gospel message he was preaching to them. In missiology (study of mission), this is called “incarnational ministry”. In short, incarnational means living life among the culture of the people you are trying to reach.
The problem arises from the fact that while foreign missionaries throughout the world have labored to become a part of the culture (though not in a syncretistic, compromising way), the church in America has often labored to separate itself from the culture in a Christian bubble with Christian music, Christian movies, Christian schools, Christian chicken restaurants, Christian social groups, Christian sports leagues, etc. PLEASE HEAR ME ON THIS: None of these things are wrong in themselves (except for maybe contemporary Christian music…I joke…). The issue is that, as a result of this, the number of places that the Gospel intersects with the culture has been severely depleted. Simply put, Christians don’t interact enough with non-Christians.
The command of Jesus in the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” is not just a call to travel abroad (though I do take “all nations” to mean “all” nations), but also a call to live with Gospel intentionality right here where we live, work, and play.
Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the question that we ALL must ask is “how can we live all of our lives in such a way that we might get the opportunity to speak the Gospel?” This will mean different things for all of us, and there is no room for legalistically imposing our application of this principle on others. However, the principle itself remains the same for all: God has not called any of us to live our lives in isolation from the world, rather he has called us all to engage the world with the Gospel.
You are a missionary called to become a part of the culture you are in, that you might advance the Gospel in that culture.
And let’s be real…for most of us, it will get a little bit uncomfortable to live lives among non-Christians (who, as it would turn out, don’t live like Christians). However…might I submit to you that it was a little uncomfortable to leave heaven to come to earth?