I can't tell you how often someone has asked us when we're heading to the mission field, to Ireland. I understand the question, it's one I anticipate, but with only two days left before I leave I cannot help but share my concerns about this very normal question. Perhaps your scratching your head wondering what I'm talking about? Let's just say I have two concerns.
Have you thought about this? The question makes some assumptions. It assumes you've got to go somewhere to get there, the mission field I mean! There is, in this question, the assumption that where we are is NOT the mission field. You might say, but that's not what I mean... and you'd be right. Yet the subtle message in the question is we're NOT there. Right? And this assumption leads to two very dangerous conclusions!
First this question might lead us to live life differently here, if HERE is not the mission field. Crazy! I know, but answer me this... would you live life differently if you thought of yourself, right where you are, as being on the mission field, if you saw yourself as a missionary? You see the truth is we're ALL on the mission field, and I'm not saying this just because the world has come to our shores. I'm saying this because all ministry involves the crossing of barriers. If your coworker is going to come to Christ, you'll have to GO to them. If your neighbor is going to come to Christ, again you'll have to GO to them. You're going to have to get involved in their lives, loving them. That is missions... the crossing of barriers with the gospel.
I mentioned there were two concerns. The second also flows from the assumption that we're NOT on the mission field here in the states. If we're NOT on the mission field we don't have to do cross-cultural ministry. We understand that on the mission field we need to do all sorts of stuff to impact that culture for Christ. We were not upset when they incorporated drums into Haitian worship, back in the day! We understood! We got Paul's words to the church in Corinth where he shares...
"I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."1 Co 9:22–23
So why don't we sometimes get that here? I think, in part, it's because we forget to remember... we're on the mission field. All around us there are people who need Jesus. People who have misconceived ideas about Christ and the church. People who will never darken the doors of the "church" we know and love. (there's another problem here. Our buildings are not the church, are they? WE are the church... but that's another blog) Anyway, there are people across the back fence, across the street, across the tracks, across the cubical wall, across town, across the table... that need Jesus. Missions is about going ACROSS those barriers.
Let's determine today to think of where we are as the place that God has called us to share the message of the kingdom. Remember.... we're on the mission field.