Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor. (Proverbs 14:21)
I know a guy who sold his business and went to be a missionary in Asia. While many young men were seeking success (whatever that means), he found it and left it to share the gospel in a foreign land.
I know a guy who left a successful career in the family business to be a missionary in America. While many young men were seeking to make a name for themselves, he submitted his life to the Lord to live on mission.
I know a guy who drew a circle around the business world and stayed within it. While many around him were climbing over people to get promotions and bonuses, he spent his time serving and loving within the context of his company.
Do you see it?
Each of these are missionary callings. We are obsessed with the idea that a mission field must be in a foreign land, but we forget that Jesus calls each of us to be missionaries right where we are. Jesus tells his disciples that hungry souls are abundantly available everywhere, and the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37).
We all are called to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Some are called to the other side of the world, and some are called to work the ground of their home town.
Home Town Missionary
So, what does this look like?
1. Pay attention to your neighbors
Now don’t get creepy—no snooping or prying. Just pay attention to the people around you. Listen to them, talk to them. Ask God what he might be doing in them.
2. Know God’s Word
I don’t mean that you have to be a scholar; you don’t. But understand the narrative of the gospel of Jesus Christ — that is, that we are all sinners in need of grace and Jesus came to offer that grace through his life, death, and resurrection.
If you see people through this grid, you will see clearly and compassionately. People are messy and annoying — that is, we are messy and annoying. We all need the grace of God. Be a student of that grace and share your portion with the people God has placed around you.
3. Remember your depravity
It’s easier to bear with people when you understand God has shown you great mercy. The cross says we’re all guilty. It was an extreme act for Jesus to die on the cross. For God to willingly lay his life down. And it’s our fault. And it’s to our benefit. To love your neighbors well, you must recall how you’ve been loved in spite of your sin.
4. Slow down
Love is not hurried. Love is patient. If we want to share God’s mercy with other people, we’re going to have to take our foot off the gas to spend moments with them. The pace in which we live is too fast sometimes, and we can choose to be intentional or we can choose to let ourselves be swept up in the fog of busyness.
Stop. Pause. Listen to people.
God Put You Where He Wants You
God does not work by accident. He is intricately intentional with how he guides our lives. The people around you — the ones you love and the ones you loathe — are his image-bearers and they all need the grace of Christ.
And you know what, you need it too.
You cannot give that which you don’t have, so don’t go grab your Bible and start running all over the place to tell people the good news which hasn’t become real to you.
Address your sin directly. Repent. Receive grace. Not once, like a transaction — but daily, as in constant worship. If you are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ over and over again you will drip with it.
As you receive the grace of Christ so you will want to serve him. Serve him by working as a laborer for the gospel. Maybe you were called to Burma, and maybe you were called to your block.
Look around you, consider what God might be doing, and ask him what’s next.