As believer in Jesus Christ, you already have a mission! God sends some of His servants on missions to far away lands. The missions of other servants are in their homeland.
Whichever kind of missionary you are (and there are no other choices), here are seven points to remember as you think about, pray for, and speak to your neighbors, acquaintances, friends and family members who are lost and on their way to hell unless they call on the Savior.
1. Like the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared! The apostle Peter put it this way: "...sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear..." (1 Peter 3:15). Have you experienced conversing with a cultist who came to your door, and feeling unable to offer a good response him? Have you had a friend ask what the Bible says about some subject, and had nothing substantial to say? How can you be prepared to give a reasonable answer to someone who might ask you about your faith? Know what you believe and why you believe it! This comes about as you faithfully hear God's Word preached, and as you faithfully and prayerfully read, study, and meditate on it.
2. Mr. Otis Redding's ever popular song speaks of "sittin' on the dock of the bay, WASTIN' TIME." Time wasting is unacceptable for God's missionaries at home and abroad. Paul wrote, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15,16). Redemption means buying back. The Lord Jesus redeemed us, bought us back for God, with His precious blood. We are to buy back precious time from being wasted by using it in God's service in advancing the cause of the Gospel.
Here's a summer time example of how to do that. One Christian family determined to have a garage sale. What a great stewardship idea! This family also determined to take advantage of their garage sale by using it for the Gospel. One family member wrote a special tract, and had photocopies made. The cover of the tract had nothing on it except a very unusual question: "What Does the Bible Say About Garage Sales?" It was hoped that this question would intrigue people and cause them to pick up the tract. When the tract was opened, the answer to the question appeared in big, bold letters: "Nothing!" The tract went on. "...However, the Bible does say quite a bit about buying and selling...Jesus said a great deal about financial matters..." From there the tract went further into a brief presentation of the Gospel. It explained that the most valuable "merchandise", salvation, is a FREE GIFT from God! Redeem the time.
3. Sadly, some believers have been so intimidated by the unbelieving world around them that they are ashamed to speak of their wonderful Savior. Let us remember our Lord's warning to His disciples: "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). Proud unbelievers "glory in their shame" (Philippians 3:1) and mock what is glorious, the Gospel (Acts 17:32). Christians should be exactly opposite, "glorying in Christ Jesus" ( Philippians 3:3), and despising the shame as did their Lord (cf. Hebrews 12:22)!
4. People of the world gossip about everything. Christians should "gossip" about the Gospel! In Deuteronomy 6:5-9 we are commanded to love the LORD with all the heart, soul, and strength, and to have the words of God's Law upon the heart.
They are to be taught to children, and talked about while sitting in the house, walking by the way, lying down, and rising up. If such devotion to the Law is required, how much more must we be devoted to the truths of the glorious Gospel! "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy -- meditate on these things" (Phiippiansl 4:8). Surely, when the inspired apostle refers to "these things" he means the precious truths of salvation. They are to be our constant meditation, and the topics we discuss with the greatest facility.
5. Be a living "Gospel decoration", but not the centerpiece. Some folks approach personal witnessing as an occasion to talk about themselves. "I" this, and "I" that - on they chatter. That little vertical pronoun, "I", can get in the way very easily! Personal testimony has its place, but sinners must be led to take hold by faith on Jesus alone for salvation! Our message is the message of what Jesus did almost 2,000 years ago when He died, was buried, and rose again: this is the Gospel! (1 Corinthians 15:1ff) Our good behavior is the adornment on this message; the "icing on the cake". In point (01) above, Peter's command to be ready to give an answer was quoted. Note well, this assumes that people will ask Christians "what makes them tick"! When a lost unbeliever sees a serious, commited Christian living joyfully in the ways of godliness, he or she will ask! Christians who do not "decorate" the Gospel by winsome ways will not be asked. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).
6. STRESS! is one of today's buzzwords. Cultists were mentioned above, those who apparently believe that their false god is pleased according to how many doorbells they ring. They often seem so joyless and stressed as they walk through the neighborhood, trying to work their way into Divine favor! The service of the true God is perfect freedom. Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden light. Being a missionary for Christ is being a peaceful peacemaker! "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:18). Don't be stressed out about witnessing. It's OK to let people know you're not a "super christian". It's OK to tell someone you can't answer that question now, but that you will get an answer for them (but don't forget!) It's OK to avoid proud, belligerent people who are really interested only in fighting. Not everyone is called to be a preacher or an evangelist. Some, in fact, are called to win souls without a word: "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives..." (1 Peter 3:1)
7. Get beyond the small talk! "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1). Suppose you see your unbelieving neighbor one afternoon as you both arrive home from work. Suppose the neighbor remarks on the weather and says, "Who ordered this heat! Isn't it terrible!?" Suppose you reply, "Well, God is in control of all things, He must know what He is doing." That is a true and bold, but inoffensive reply, and it's not likely that your neighbor hears it every day! Perhaps he would think about it, and your boldness will have earned an opportunity for further discussion at another time. In a variety of ways and in different circumstances, a similar boldness can be effectively used. Go and do likewise!
May God bless all His missionaries, serving Him worldwide.
July 11, 1999
Pastor Keith Graham
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