Monday, April 2, 2012

Impacting Eternity through... ?

The Comment:
I've had a few people bring up that if you are not doing missions or ministry directly, that you aren't affecting people as much... Like quantity wise, you can do MORE for the kingdom and fulfill God's commandment BETTER if you go into Missions or something. What do you think of that?
Initially there are probably a few things I would agree with in this statement...but my immediate reaction was, 'That's ridiculous.'  There are far too many possibilities to make a general blanket statement like that.

Do I think that doing missions/ministry can impact a lot of lives? Sure... depending on the organization, the country, you... and a lot of other variables.

I guess I'd start by probing the question a bit more. How do you do more? How do you fulfill God's commandment better? Is He measuring our success by the number of people we share the Gospel with? By the number of nations we go to in order to make disciples of them? Is quantity the thing that matters here? Is there ever something to be said for quality?

Is it better to be a part of a mega-church that is bringing thousands of people in each week, but focused more on the bright lights, sounds, spectacle of rousing people's attention than it is on the penetrating message of Christ... over being a doctor in a small town where you're physically saving lives and getting to be involved in a small church that dives deep and love others well?  Hmmm... probably not.

It seems that, typically, being involved with missions/ministry draws you into places where you're more actively involved in other believer's lives more than you are those who don't know Christ. Again, this depends on a lot of things. But... look at churches, camps, overseas trips, college ministries, etc. While there's some aspect of outreach in hopefully all of these, there's a prime mission of discipleship, too.

Think about who you're directly impacting in a job. For example, my current job in ministry gives me endless opportunities to interact with thousands of people each year. The vast majority that I directly impact are other Christians. This isn't bad... as a lot of what I'm doing, saying, writing, developing hopefully inspires them in powerful ways (even to the extent of going into the world and sharing the Good News). The troublesome part is that I've now recognized that none of my direct interactions are non-believers on a day-to-day basis. Some might say this is okay, as I'm ultimately impacting thousands... but it doesn't sit well with me. It feels like a cop-out... I must also be willing to go into the world, not just work behind-the-scenes for a ministry or mission.

If every Christian abided by the advice given to you, we'd have missed something huge. If every Christian became a part of a ministry/mission full-time and devoted their life to that cause...we'd miss thousands of opportunities in the world as we simply live life with others. We'd miss out on being able to use our gifts to reach thousands in the world. We'd miss out on the Tim Tebows, Mel Gibsons, Rascal Flatts... who are able to make an incredible impact on millions through their words, their songs, their talents, their creativity. We'd miss out on the teachers, the doctors, the bankers, the store clerks, the mailmen, the waitresses who have hundreds of interactions daily that can used in powerful ways.

I commend Christians who don't feel like they have to go into missions/ministry. I applaud their efforts to build real, lasting relationships with people who may not know Jesus...and when they are willing to love them no matter what and show them a true reflection of what Christ looks like. I believe that these are the relationships that truly bring about change.... more so, even, than short-term mission trips... or big conferences...or week-long camps.

But ultimately? Ultimately, I think both are good.... both are necessary. Both can be done with the same calling in mind-- to spread the love of Jesus. You may be gifted for ministry/missions... you may be gifted for a different type of job. Do some of both throughout your life, if you can.

There's a powerful purpose for your life.
Don't be afraid to live in it.

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