1. The whole church is responsible for the whole church.
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul’s commendation of Timothy here is noteworthy. He had apparently demonstrated an unusual tendency that had even impressed his mentor. Paul knew that when left to ourselves human beings will usually tend to look out for “number one” and this is the norm, not the exception. Timothy’s unusual character quality was his apparent tendency to look out for the interest and welfare of other believers; in this case, the Christians in Philippi. This is also happens to be the interest of Christ! Paul was gladly boasting about this mature quality that he was happy to see forming in the heart of his younger ministry partner.
This is a critical issue for the Global Church today. A clear bench mark of spiritual maturity is when we show a genuine interest and concern for the welfare of believers everywhere and NOT just in my church or those churches full of people like me. For example, the impressive mobilization of missionaries from South Korean churches is a victory for all of us! The record-setting speed of the spread of the gospel in Africa is a win for the whole church! Likewise though, the problems and issues are all ours as well. The point is this, if we are mature Christians, when any part of the church has an issue, then we all have an issue!
2. Unity is jet fuel for the spread of the gospel.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
When you stop to think about the fact that we actually have a recorded prayer of Jesus for Christians today in scripture, it’s really quite astounding. And of all the things he could have prayed for, oneness between his followers was his first choice – wow! Jesus didn’t desire a generic oneness either. Jesus prayed for a caliber of oneness between Christians that was akin to what he personally knew within the Trinitarian relationships. That kind of oneness and its practical implications will certainly take much to understand, but we can say one thing for sure from the way he ends…our oneness will have a tangible impact! According to Jesus, real oneness can actually speed up the rate at which the gospel spreads. This means that for the sake of the gospel we have to be willing to work for unity across the economic, ethnic, political, and cultural gaps of the globe if we care about reaching more people faster with the good news of Jesus Christ.
3. The Great Commission is not gospel proclamation alone.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
These verses are in the DNA of missions understanding. The reason for that is in its power to anchor the priorities of missions. For any that might suggest evangelism as the point of mission work, these verses must be closely considered. While evangelism is an integral part of missions, it is not enough to complete the task. If anything it is just the beginning of the process of making disciples of all nations.
We must look again at what makes a region of the world “reached” in our eyes. It is true that national disciples can make disciples faster and more efficiently in their home culture than those from Christians that come in from other cultures, but does that mean that Christians from other cultures have nothing of value to offer? The scope of the global task is too big for any one person or minsitry to handle alone anyway. So as long as disciples need to be made, we should assume that the whole church should be invested in the effort. The key will be working together toward that end with sensitivity, respect and love.
4. Money alone will not build up relationships.
8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
1 Thess. 2:8
There is no question that a generous but wise use of resources is critical for increasing God’s work in Latin America (and elsewhere), however if that is all we do then there will be a great loss for those in Latin America and those providing the financial help. We must also personally go there. We need to be on the ground. We need to be in each other’s lives in personal, sincere and meaningful ways. Those that do this will serve as relational bridges that help others to do the same in the future and increase the impact of the mission work. If we only share money then eventually, people’s hearts grow unengaged and in turn that leads to a lack of relationships and also a lack of financial resources. Our money alone is not enough for the success of the whole church. We must share our lives with each other which also includes our resources. Nothing less than sacrificial living will do for maximum impact.
5. God’s call is what matters most in the end.
[Examples of Calls: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Peter, Paul etc.]
There are many examples of God calling people in the Bible; so many that I don’t even think it’s helpful to list out the scriptures. I do think it helps to say however, that when the call of God comes it is not something to be resisted. Those who have accepted it in the Biblical record, even while not fully understanding it, have stood as witnesses to the wisdom of that choice down through the ages.
It’s worth pointing out that, even if all things were considered and reason and logic had their say, the final arbiter is still whether or not a person has been called by God. If the call has come, then there is nothing else that matters. You can be sure that Noah met with more than a few jokes at his expense while building the ark on dry ground. Abraham also probably struggled to explain fully to his family why he was supposed to leave home like he did. And we already know that Moses was doubted by both Egyptians and his Israelite brothers when he came as Yahweh’s Instrament of deliverance. In the end it’s enough to know that when God truly calls, only a fool will resist it. The call of God gives us a staying power we need in the end!
I welcome your feedback as I seek to grow more in my own understanding of these subjects. Blessings!