2002-05-29 - The Mission Field
Matthew 9:36-38 And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."
It is interesting that Christ first observes the lost, feels compassion for them, and then solicits prayer for them. He asks that the disciples would pray that God would send out workers to the lost. We live in a time that is unprecedented in human history. Never before has the world, every part of it, been so accessible to human travel and the ability to go into the harvest and labor. The Great Commission still stands (Matthew 28:18-20) and therefore some of us must go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
If you are not one of the "goers" into the world, then you are a sender, and your duty to fulfill the Great Commission is just as important as those who actually go. If there were no senders, no one could go. So we all have a place in Christ's call, even though our fulfillment of the Great Commission might look different than it does with someone else.
The wonderful way that missions has opened up, so that nearly every land, nation, and tribe can conceivably be reached, is amazing. Truly it is reminiscent of what Christ said in Matthew 13:17, "For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." The cost of missions in the past has been great, and for many it is still great today. There have been many who have been martyred. There are many others who died of diseases in lands where they were exposed to things their immune system could not cope with. For many years, missionaries from Scotland to Africa packed their things in their coffins, so that when they died, they would have their coffin at the ready. Their zeal for the lost clearly should make us blush in shame.
When we think of the immeasurable forgiveness we have through the blood of Christ, when we remember that before, we were at war with God and now we are called His children, and that this change grants rights and privileges such as access to Him through prayer, we should, with Christ, feel compassion for the lost who know nothing of this. We have been blessed with the light of the gospel, but billions live in darkness, dying without hope and without ever hearing the name Jesus Christ. And yet, there is more availability to reach these people than ever before. Especially in the Western world, we have been blessed with so much prosperity and wealth that we should be leading this battle and taking the front place in spreading the gospel of grace to the world.
What are we to do? Well, first we are to ask God to send workers into the harvest. These are the clear words of Christ to everyone. Even with all the advantages of a modern instant society, the task is still daunting. But we can't simply fold our hands and say, "I'm not up to the task," because every one of us can pray that workers be sent out. Many of us can also support missions with our finances. It is not like we have to give a lot of money to support missions. Everyone I support, and I don't support that many, only gets $25.00 a month. That may sound cheap, but I can afford that and I have simply felt that it is better to give a little to a good cause, than to do nothing.
I think there are two things to consider if you start giving to missions. First, you should do your homework and know where the money is going, and second, you should never let it take away from what you give to your home church.
However, some of us need to be those that go. In fact, there is an extent to which we are all to go. Mission work starts right where we are. We reach out to those around us with Christ's love and message to repent from sin and flee the wrath to come. So there is no way out of this call to the mission field for the Christian. It is our calling. We are, as 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, "ambassadors for Christ." Some might be called to go overseas, but not everyone is. However, we should seek to adopt, no matter how we are called to fulfill the call of the Great Commission, the compassion that Christ had for the lost who are like sheep without a shepherd.
Soli Deo Gloria,