Do you ever feel like things in this world are becoming more complex by the day? Have you ever wondered if living a Christian life in our chaotic modern times might be more complicated than in any previous generation?
As I have been seeking God through quiet times, the word “simplify” continues to reverberate throughout Scripture. A quick look in Webster’s dictionary teases out synonyms like “single, sincere, not combined with anything else, plain, easy, unmingled, undivided, or without embellishment.”
When we consider the familiar call of Jesus to follow Him and make disciples of all nations, we can quickly become overwhelmed by the scope of the need.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We make plans, design programs, form committees, and discuss processes. We divide ministry into foreign missions or domestic missions, short-term missions or long-term missions, medical missions or local missions until for many, the word “missions” cascades into a kaleidoscope of feeling inadequate, guilty, ashamed, or fearful. Rather than rejoicing that God has sovereignly chosen to use us in making disciples, we become paralyzed by an endless parade of mental excuses.
Sadly, humans have a tendency to complicate just about everything, including obedience to the Gospel. Yet, I am beginning to recognize that whenever circumstances threaten to overwhelm, the antidote is to go back to basics. Whenever our focus on Christ’s mission wavers, the antidote is to simplify. Devotional author Oswald Chambers writes that our relationship to God will deepen as our service to Him becomes simpler and more child-like.
If we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal,
then each moment as it comes is precious.”Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1992) July 28.
God’s mission plan is to use all Believers who will obediently go wherever He sends them and radiate the Gospel. is No matter who you are, or how limited your skills, God’s intent is to use you to build His Kingdom both by sending you out to people, and by sending people to you. The simplest mission question boils down to…Lord, who are You sending me to today to be Your hands and feet and voice? Lord, who are You bringing across my path today so that I can reflect Your love, hope, and peace?
In practical terms for me, a few weeks ago the “going” involved traveling to Spain to share hope with young people suffering under the trauma of being torn from their homes by violent circumstances. As God sent them across my path, the somber, hauntingly vacant faces of these kids, scarred by human brutality, were gloriously transformed into joy-filled smiles through the power of the Gospel.
For me, last week the “going” included helping flood relief efforts in the St. Louis area as God sent distraught homeowners, whose hearts He had already prepared, to find eternal salvation via compassionate “mud-out” service and spiritual conversations. Yesterday, the “going” meant walking a few blocks down the street to clean and prepare a home for a new Ukrainian refugee family that God has sent to my community out of the trauma of war.
Those real-life scenarios demonstrate how missions today is an astonishing blend of both going and intentionally watching for those God sends. He is in the midst of bringing people from every tribe, nation, and language right to the doorstep of our Illinois churches. Though your “going” and God’s “sending” will look a little different from mine in your context, the mission remains just as simple. In the Apostle Paul’s words,
“…But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
Single-minded, focused, and unstoppable, we have been called and empowered to go and make disciples. We have the amazing privilege and responsibility to expectantly watch and share with the people God sends to us. Are you willing to take time to give an extra squeeze of encouragement on the shoulder of Mohammed, or to lend a listening ear to Mariella? Let’s simplify missions and let God do the rest.
Pictures and Post by Jennifer Smith. Jennifer Smith has been boarding planes and participating in mission work around the world ever since her first junior high church mission trip to Mexico. Armed with a variety of academic degrees and a passionate desire to share the Good News with those who have never heard the name of Jesus, God has dropped her into many countries “closed” to traditional missionaries. She currently lives in Jacksonville, IL and attends Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church.