While many love to carry the title missionary around, I do not. The reason is missionaries is not a biblical office. I also believe we have a theological issue when we consider people missionaries. It is something deep in our culture, especially in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.
Normally, a young person gets radically saved and delivered. They want to see everyone born again and the power of God hit them. They are more excited about the gospel then the pastor is. The pastor does not know how to deal with this so he tells the young person to go to some distant nation as a missionary.
The young person will get a little training from a place like YWAM or Victory Bible College in Tulsa and off then go, with a bible in hand and a testimony burning in their heart. All they know is Jesus saves, heals, delivers and fills. The good thing is they know the simplicity of the Cross. They have the basics right.
The problem is the pastor sees sending someone that makes him uncomfortable into a spiritual warzone full of all types of devil as “getting rid” of believers who make him look less spiritual.
Missionary thinking is unbiblical
There is Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Teachers but where is the missionary? It is not listed anywhere because the office of the missionary is not for leadership but it is for all believers. Every Christian is a missionary. If you do not believe that, you have a theological problem.
The idea that people are “called” to go to some tribe in Africa and you are not is heretical at best. We are called to preach the gospel with signs and wonders following. Every single one of us.
Keith Green, the late prophetic psalmist, had it right when he asked, “The question is not if you are called to go. The question is are you called to stay?” The truth is many have no desire to embrace the gospel in a different cultural context than what they grew up in.
The issue here we like to check out of doing the gospel because we think by sending a little money to someone in Africa, we are off the hook. This is completely unbiblical. Everyone is called to be a missionary and everyone should do at least one mission trip in their life.
When we start to see everyone as the missionary, we are partaker of the gospel. We share in the grace of our fellow believers in Mongolia and we share in the suffering of our fellow Christians in Brazil. It is truly about being the Bride of Christ; one global Church.
While we have the “here is some money, go for me and don’t come back” mentality of the missionary, we will never step into the calling of Christ for the souls of humanity. We have to admit that alot of our thinking about world missions is just backwards.
The sooner we repent of this ungodly belief, the better we will be spiritually.
Why I do not call myself a missionary
Part of the reason is biblical and part of it is that I find the term just cheesy. It would be like calling someone Trashman Tom or Secretary Julie. A missionary is what I do but it is not who I am. I am me. I do not find my identity is what I do but I find it in Christ Jesus.
When I sit next to a street kid in the Philippines, I am there because I care; not because it is my “job.” When it becomes a job, the whole thing is messed up. I am just being a employee to some church at that point. It is not not about the heart; it is about duty. I do not want to love out of duty but desire.
Another reason that this is important is when someone attacks the work (and they will), I do not take it personal. It is what I do but not who I am. I know what God says over me and how He sees me. The attacks are real but they are not as real as the love of God singing over me. I know the His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4) and that God has raised a standard against the attack to protect me. (Is. 59:19) I also know I have a hedge of protection surrounding me. (Job 1:10)
Dealing with haters
Alot of people attack people and do not realize those who are loving people in the Philippines or Africa are just as human as those loving people in Dallas or Kansas City. I have been the center of attackers of the haters more times that I can remember but people forget that I am a human as well. A missionary might live somewhere else but the call is the same: love God and to love sinners. Only the location is different.
In many ways those who are “haters” are just upset at the truth that you carry, they do not like you raining on their sin party, or they are reminded of a call of God on their lives. For whatever reason, the heart of God is not revealed by their words of the haters.
That means that either the source of their words is either from the flesh and their own rebellion or it is from the evil one. Some of the words that I hear thrown at me daily by people are simply attacks of the devil using carnal men who have lost all connection with the Holy Spirit. If I believed the words they spoke over me, I would be suicidal.
The good news I do not believe the report of the evil one. I choose to pick up my sword in one hand and my plowshare in the other. It is harvest time for the nations. We have the great end time revival in front of us. It is revival time!