Mission-mindedness. I have to confess that I am not the most mission-minded person on the planet. Honestly, it is not something that comes naturally to me. I have always been awed by missionaries and evangelists because they seem to have such a clear call that they obey, regardless of the personal cost. I, on the other hand, have always been inhibited by my temperament and fears (I’m not giving an excuse, just stating the facts).
Obviously I knew that this was not the way to live, but I think I never took it seriously until recently when I read Romans 10: 14, 15.
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?...”
It is a very familiar verse, but as I read it that day, I could almost sense the tone in which Paul was saying this. Almost pleadingly, asking his hearers to think – how would people believe God if they had not heard about Him? How could they hear if no one spoke to them about Him?
And that was the moment when I began to own this verse; accepting the fact that I was being addressed here. That God was asking me the same questions today, not in a condemnatory or peremptory tone, but wistfully. Gently nudging me to look outward rather than inward. To see the lost and searching souls around me and reach out to them.
It has been an eye-opening experience to be frank. My hard heart has had to be made malleable. And in that state of looking outward, I’ve actually found joy!
I’m realising that there will never be an ideal moment when I think I am “mature enough” or “equipped enough” to share the gospel. But God is not looking for experts. He sees my heart and the desire therein to stretch out a hand of love and touch someone. To dispel some of the darkness in their life with the light of God’s word. To speak truth into their situation, negating the lies of the enemy.
And for that I need to have compassion.
This is how Mathew describes Jesus, when He was on earth (Mathew 9:36-38) - “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” (emphasis mine)
Jesus saw the people milling around Him and He did not turn away from them. Neither did He see them as an evangelistic opportunity to bombard with the good news. Rather He was “moved with compassion” – He felt for them; He loved them. He did not see them as a problem to be solved but as individuals with various needs that only a relationship with God could resolve. He knew that merely solving their physical problems wasn’t the solution. It was a long-term plan that needed labourers – willing to stay in it for the long haul. Who were able to see the end result from the beginning – the ripened harvest, not just weeds.
So I have begun to pray for a fresh perspective. To be willing to be moved with compassion. To be willing to allow my heart to break for what breaks the heart of God. To speak, share, love, and live – outward focused and joyfully.
Living like this actually makes me more available to God and to others. I’ve found it quite liberating. I’m no longer inhibited by my temperament or fears. It’s bringing me into a more intimate walk with God, as I choose daily to see as He sees, to love as He loves, and to live as He lives – compassionately, joyfully, freely!