The importance of understanding words.
Listen to the story; “An Argentine ambassador was answering his American guest’s question concerning the family of the diplomat. Did he have any children? Explaining that his wife could not have a child, the ambassador said, “You see, my wife is impregnable!” Sensing that that was not quite the right word he added, “No; you see my wife is inconceivable!” Again sensing that he had not used the correct descriptive adjective, he finally and triumphantly explained, “You see, my wife is unbearable!” Be careful how you use it.”
Words and their meaning are extremely important. Especially to us as preachers. We fight for the meaning of marriage and we are passionate about the definition of life and RIGHTFULLY SO.
Saying that, when we hear the word missions we as leaders in the church need to be passionate about the definition of this word. We have to be careful how we use the word missions to make sure that we don’t mess up the understanding of the word.
- Some Christians operate with a very broad understanding of mission, describing all activities of the church as “missional,” that is, characterized by mission insofar as they participate in “God’s mission”. Therefore social work, soup kitchens, charitable giving, orphanage care and much more constitutes mission. Some reject the traditional notion that mission has anything to do with “inducing people of non-Christian faiths or of other Christian denominations to convert to one’s own church.”2
What is missions?
Mission (n.) – A sending or being sent, usually the latter; a being sent or delegated by authority, with certain powers for transacting business; commission; as sent on a foreign mission
– Webster Dictionary 1828
Therefore missions is being sent one with a commission. Missions is Sending.
Look at the life of Jesus. Jesus was a sent one. He was in every respect of the word a Missionary.
Look at Jesus’ first movement. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Jesus was sent by God to this world. Jesus was dwelling with God and sent to dwell among us.
Jesus’ commissioning the apostles. Multiple times. Jesus sent the 70 out two by two. Luke 10:7 He sent His disciples to the cities of Israel with the instruction of not going to the Gentiles nor the Samaritans. Matt 10:5
Look at the life of Paul.
Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Missions is being sent with a purpose.
Meaning that there is a purpose to you being sent. John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. Jesus purpose was specific.
Jesus was in Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and he left after healed many different sick people Jesus goes into a desert place. The people sought out Jesus so that He should stay and not leave their town. Now notice what Jesus’ response was Luke 4:43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. 44 And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
Jesus’ ministry was to the lost sheep of Israel. Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
The life of Paul shows the same specific focus in ministry. Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Paul, from that point on proclaimed the gospel. He would gather the believers, baptized them and brought them into assemblies where the new disciple could be built up in the faith.
2 Hesselgrave, David J. “Preface.” Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and beyond. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000. 31. Print.