Do You Think Everybody Should Be a Missionary?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Do you think everybody should be a missionary?
No. And the reason I don't is not because I don't want to be thought stupid. I really would like hundreds of thousands of people to go. I pray those numbers a lot. And I'm thinking about Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea—other countries besides America—as sending countries.
The reason I don't think everyone should go is because, when he wrote the book of Romans, Paul was clearly recruiting the Romans to send him from Rome to Spain. Clearly. He says so. "I hope to arrive there and be sent on my way" (Romans 15:24).
Now why didn't he say, "I intend to arrive in Rome and take all the Christians with me to Spain"? It's because he knows that there's a division of labor in the Christian church. Some are called to stay in Rome—to stay right there in their jobs, be a light for Christ in that sick place (so that the light and salt are bearing their good fruit there), and they are supposed to now help send him. Somebody has got to make some money, for goodness sake, to pave the passageway to Spain. So on that basis alone—and there of course would be many other texts—I would say Paul implies that there is a division of labor.
Here's the way we like to say it at Bethlehem. You have three possibilities in relation to missions. You can be a goer, you can be a sender, or you can be disobedient. There is no other option but those three. That means that there are no coasters. There are no people who say, "Missions is not my thing. I don't think in terms of going or sending. That's not my calling. I do pro-life work in downtown Minneapolis, period." Well, I don't think that's an option for the Christian, in view of Matthew 28:19-20. When it addresses the whole church—"All authority is mine, go therefore and make disciples of all the nations"—every Christian should feel that they have to be engaged in that.
So I'm going to be either engaged by going myself (long-term or short-term) or I'm going to be engaged by doing my light-shining work here and sufficiently engaged so that I think of myself as a sender. There are people that I know who go, and I'm behind them and I'm for them. I'm supporting them and praying for them, because I care about reaching the unreached peoples of the world. That's the King's command.
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