Read Romans 15:1-33
“My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of
Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already
been started by someone else. I have been following the plan
spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘Those who
have never been told about him will see, and those
who have never heard of him will understand.’”
Digging Deeper: Are you a missional Christian?
I thought I was. I grew up in the church where the occasional missionary would come, and if we were lucky, show slides of his work in Africa, or some other far off place that I’d only heard about in geography lessons at school. Then I grew up and became a pastor, and again, the occasional missionary would come and tell the church of what God was doing somewhere far away, and I would feel good that we were a missions church. I would even give occasionally to support the church’s missions effort around the world. I thought I was a missions-minded Christian.
But that began to change. Periodically, I was sent overseas for short-term missions projects by the various churches I served, and my heart began to get reshaped by what I saw God doing among people who had never heard the name of Jesus before. The signs, wonders and miracles in the missions context (Paul talks about that in his own missions context in Romans 15:19) blew my mind. I had never seen such things in the U.S, and experiencing it abroad, I longed to see the supernatural back home in my church, too. God was shaking me and reshaping my heart for missions. He was getting me ready to go missional!
Then in 2003, God completely dislocated my heart, and gave me a passion for missions like I had never had before—a passion for reaching people who’d never heard the Gospel of Christ. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I was becoming intensely missionial.
It all happened when I reluctantly got involved in a church-planting project in a remote, unreached region in Africa. I was reluctant because I knew that my involvement would require a lot of my own personal resources, and to be successful, would require significant resources from my church. Figuring our resource pie was stretched, and limited, I secretly feared that the finances we dedicated to this project would flow away from other worthy projects; that we would simply be “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
But then, God spoke to me. Not in an audible voice or through writing on the wall or some other sensational sort of way (wouldn’t that be cool!). He simply and clearly spoke to me through an undeniable and unmistakable inner impression in my spirit. Addressing my fears, God simply said, “Ray, if you will take care of the things I care about, then I will take care of the things you care about. I care about a lost world. I care about people who have never heard my name. And I want you to care about them too!”
That was good enough for me. I jumped into this project up to my eyeballs, and true to his word, God turned on a miraculous flow of resources, not only for this church planting project, but for those other projects I had been so concerned about as well. Best of all, our obedience keyed a revival in this region of Africa that was beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. In a region where only a few believers attended a handful of churches before this missions effort, five years later 1397 churches have been planted and at a last count, 70,000 believers added to those churches. And the revival is showing no signs of slowing.
What God has done in Africa through the obedience of that church changed my heart forever, and has given me a growing, if not consuming passion for missions. I still have a passion for my local church (that’s missions, too), but I have an added ambition now: To keep God’s people focused on reaching people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.
That was Paul’s ambition, according to Romans 15:20. That is God’s ambition, according to Romans 15:21. I hope that you will open your heart and let God make it your ambition as well. I hope that you will travel with me down the path to becoming a truly missional Christian. If you will, I will make you the same promise God made me:
“If you will take care of the things God cares about—a lost world, God will take care of the things you care about—your world.”
What a deal! That’s an offer you can’t refuse.
“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get
to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”
This Week’s Assignment
Read: Romans 15:1-33
Memorize: Romans 15:1
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings
of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
For Your Consideration: Are you suffering from the me-asles? It’s pretty hard to spot in yourself, so why don’t you ask someone who knows you and is willing to be lovingly truthful with you if you are infected. For certain, ask the Great Physician to examine you. Take the time to respond to these questions—they will help to give you a more accurate assessment of your condition:
Do you tend to think of yourself first, or do you gladly and proactively put the needs and interests of others ahead of your own?
Are you willing to put up with inconvenience and discomfort for the sake of Christ?
What do you need to do to increase your “servant quotient”?
Where might your attitude need adjusting?
How can you become more accountable for growth in this area of servant-heartedness?
Who are you serving in the name of Christ?
Is this motto, “God is first, others are second, and I am third” true of you?
It would certainly be easy to breeze through this examination and ignore the prescription that will cure this disease, but the certain outcome of such avoidance will be to live with a persistent case of the me-asles. So what does a daily dose of dethronement look like for you in a practical sense?