Call to Missions: A Death Sentence
Amongst job advertisements one will likely not find a job with the phrase “willingness to die” listed among the required competences or duties. Such a job description might provoke curiosity but rarely produce legitimate interest or candidates. While that premise as a job description is not so inviting, it exists as a reality for those entering missions (and for those entering general ministry).
One cannot read the Bible without being overwhelmed by the obligation to replace the self with the Son. At several points Jesus Christ proclaims that those who are to follow him must deny themselves (Matthew 10:38-39; Luke 14:27). From the Gospel of Luke (9:23), read the following words out loud:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Following those words audibly offers a distinctive authority that compels the heart to define the seriousness of being a disciple. Christ issues a summons that prescribes a lifestyle that is oriented towards him and away from self.
While Christ directs his words generally towards Christians, there is a specific sense in which this holds true for those in missions. Because it is service to others on behalf of the Lord, missions requires an eradication of self in three specific ways:
- Passions: The call to ministry is a call to set aside personal motivations, ambitions, and aspirations for the sake of God’s kingdom and God’s people. Sometimes it may mean forgoing specific sporting events, engaging in different pastimes, or utilizing one’s abilities in unanticipated ways.
- Preferences: Additionally, every individual has preferences. These preferences range from types of food, how to clean, or how relationships should take place. Yet, service to the Lord can bring different abilities, mentalities, and personalities that force us to set aside those preferences so that the Lord can be glorified more.
- Priorities: Finally, priorities are required to change. A late-night phone call may require an immediate response that prioritizes the good of God’s people over the joy of personal comfort. Perhaps there is a need to set personal proclivities aside for the sake of sharing a common cup at the table. Whatever the case may be, priorities are reorganized based upon God’s principles not man’s principles.
By accepting God’s directive to make disciples, missionaries are sentenced to death. It is a death of self and the resurrection of new life in Him that sets aside personal passions, personal preferences, and personal priorities.
Such a call is not one that takes away entertainment, hobbies, or occupations. It is a call that means setting aside such personal aspects of our lives, sometimes permanently and other times temporarily, for the sake of serving God. Missions does not abolish joy but replaces temporal elation with eternal satisfaction. The call to missions is a death sentence, a death to self, but a call that brings life.