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Your Call To Missions

Your Call To Missions

Calling is more about who we are than what we do.

Mike Rhoades | Jan 22, 2016

When you feel a call to missions what do you do with it? A call to missions can be intimidating. Our first thought is, “Do I need to sell everything and move to some remote place?” Maybe. Suddenly chucking everything and heading to a third world country is a noble but disorienting thought. For many, the challenge comes in making sense of what a call to missions actually is. Some people intuitively know where to go in life, most others struggle to find their way. I wonder if we do more harm than good in the church when framing up the conversation around calling? Our tendency, in an effort to spur people into action, is to connect calling directly to occupation. Instead of moving people forward, this tendency has an arresting effect. People get stuck in a calling-occupation loop. “Should I take this job?” “Should I become a missionary in this country?” We’re stuck trying to discern if the occupation is actually our God-given calling. What if we are wrong? The true nature of calling was never meant to be overtly occupational. Calling is more about who we are than what we do. Take, for example, the man in this story:
As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.” He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!” Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.” That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked. Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.” -- Mark 10:17-27
This has the feel of a person just getting back from a mission trip. Their passion is boiling over. There heart is screaming, “more! more!” They believe they are ready to follow God anywhere. But what happens? Life happens. Suddenly their passion comes face-to-face with the tension of losing everything they love, everything they’ve worked for, to pursue God. I think this tends to be where people lose the spiritual inertia they picked up on the mission field. We gravitate towards extremes. We tend to try and live our faith on the extremes as well. The problem with extremes is they evoke extremes emotions. Notice what happens at the beginning of the story. Jesus is with his disciples and a man comes running up to him. I think we tend to overlook this detail. This guys was charged up. You don’t come running up to someone passively. Teenage girls don’t charge the stage at a Justin Bieber concert because logic is driving them. This was an excitable man. He runs up to Jesus and blurts out, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus’ response is hilarious. Essentially, he says, “Chill out man.” Even after Jesus gives the guy a very practical response, he keeps on rollin. Then Jesus meets him where he’s at with the, “Sell everything and give it to the poor,” line. When we are operating in the extremes, we rarely respond well to practicality. Coming home from a mission trip and trying to discern if your life’s calling is a ridiculous task. I think, in this story Jesus confronted a man who was operating in the extremes. So, Jesus looked him directly in the eyes and saw the hysteria. In this moment Jesus chose to give a hysterical man an extreme answer. Don’t take this out of context. Jesus gave a true answer. We would do well to carefully consider how his response impacts our life. I also believe that emotion is important. God gave us emotion to amplify the power of moments. Moments directly connected to emotion tend to stick in our brains better than others. Though, emotions aren’t to be relied on when discerning complex decisions. With that, don’t miss the emotional temperature of this interaction. We can take away two key thoughts about calling based on this conversation. First, when we are operating in the extremes nuance is lost on us. Jesus provides an extreme response to an extreme man because he missed the first, more subtle, response. In essence, Jesus shocked the man back to reality and it hurt. I think when we come to God in our extremes with questions of calling, we can miss the nuance of what it means to be called. It’s like trying to perform open heart surgery with a blunt axe. The man in this story missed a greater truth in Jesus’ response. To follow Jesus we must, in all we do, be more in love with Christ and more interested in others than our own circumstances. This leads to the second insight. Calling is about who we are more than what we do. We are all gifted. God wouldn’t have gifted us without the expectation that we use those gifts. When we connect occupation to calling then we limit the potential uses of our gifts. Following Jesus to the mission field is a calling each of us have but it’s not an occupation. Even within a mission trip, the confluence of skills make for incredibly impactful work. For example, while on a trip your team recognizes the bathroom is broken and your team so happens to include a plumber. In that moment, God is using that person’s gifts to impact a community in a very tangible way. I hope everyone goes on a mission trip. In fact, I hope you go on a hundred mission trips. Participating in a mission trip is one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have. Know that these are not exclusive and your call to missions surrounds you every day. In the end of this story Jesus tells the disciples they have, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.” when asked how to get to the Kingdom of Heaven. We have no chance if we believe by doing something for Christ we will discover our calling. We have every chance if we place our trust in Christ a become the person He created us to be. Your calling is more about being than doing.    

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