October 18, 2006

To Be A Missionary

I've been thinking lately about what it takes to be a missionary. There are so many connotations of the word floating around in the grand scheme of things that I think I may need to ditch the word entirely if I'm to successfully communicate my meaning. Unfortunately, I can't think of a better word, although "spiritual tour guide" comes fairly close (ala Rob Bell). It is my humble opinion that we (we = all people claiming to follow the risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, usually called "Christians") have all been called to be missionaries. To be a missionary is to be someone attempting to "make disciples of all nations." I think it's fairly obvious where this comes from: Jesus told us. So what is a disciple?

Disciples are seekers. It's important to know the difference between a seeker and a believer:
seekers are people who are seeking truth - nothing more. I think the church has of late bastardized this particular term to mean something it doesn't. A seeker is not necessarily a non-believer; in fact, every follower of Jesus is to be a disciple, and therefore a seeker. A seeker does not give up seeking truth simply because they've committed their life to Christ. In fact, you might say that since they've committed to Christ, they've found the path to follow, and now have to walk it, seeking what may come.

I think many Christians often get an idea that once a person believes in Jesus, their mental life ends and their life in general grinds to a halt. They don't have to know anything new, we don't have to learn, we don't have to seek. But it's not true! Jesus is a beginning - truth is not an end, it's a journey. If Jesus is
the way, the truth, and the life, then we are to start, not end with Jesus. Jesus, in this case is (among other things) the start of a new path.

This, I think, changes the idea of missions entirely. While it's true that missions encompasses humanitarian work (alleviating poverty, building relationships, seeking Justice), it also means that we are to inspire people to seek truth. I think this is starting to include both Christians and non-Christians alike; so many Christians believe that once they've accepted Christ, the journey ends and they have to sit around waiting to get to heaven. They sit back in the pews at church doing nothing, blindly following leadership and going about their everyday lives as if nothing has changed.

And yet the vast majority of people - Christian and non-Christian alike - have stopped seeking. They no longer care to question their beliefs just in case they could be wrong ... they must be right. If a faith is so weak that questioning it could break it, then what's the point?

Yet faith is usually strengthened by testing, by conflict. Look no farther than the muslims in the middle east; because of the war, their beliefs are suddenly under threat, and far from giving up, they've grown. Perhaps we could learn something from them. I'm not saying we should get all militant and start bombing innocent civilians (no comments about whether or not this is happening, I know), but I am saying that perhaps it's time to start getting out of our church-fortresses and start challenging the things we think we know.

The time has come to realize
And see the plan you've been designed for
So face the fear of all unknown
And see the heart inside
So open up your eyes ...


shawna said...

Ah Chris, you've hit on something very important, and I think you're right, I think there are alot of Christians out there not seeking. The Bible says "seek and you shall find" the bible is a treasure hunt, and God wants to reveal things to us, but we have to go looking for it. Every time I sit down with the bible and really search it -- I find so many layers, new things revealed about who God really is and I realize how alive the bible really is, God has created a book like no other, and it continually is showing me more and more how great God really is, it gives me goose bumps sometimes, and I want everyone to know what thats like, but so many people are sitting around uninspired and bored with their Chrisitanity and it doesn't have to be that way, in fact God doesn't want it to be that way, I would say God's all about excitement and adventure...ok I'll stop my rambling...all that to say, I agree.

Ross said...

You're a deep thinker, and have obviously grappled with these issues. Good stuff. Keep it coming.