Jesus Christ has commissioned His church to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Does this mean that every Christian is called to be a missionary? Today, W. Robert Godfrey teaches what it looks like for the whole church to be active in the mission entrusted to us.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Are all Christians called to be missionaries? I'm here on the Ligonier campus with Ligonier's chairman and one of our teaching fellows, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. Dr. Godfrey, are all Christians called to be missionaries?
DR. W. ROBERT GODFREY: That's a great question. And of course, it depends very much on what we mean by the word missionaries. When we hear the word missionaries, we usually think of people who leave home, go to another country, learn another language, function in another culture to try to make Christ known. And I think it's pretty clear that not all Christians are called to be missionaries in that sense. I think it's true that all Christians are called to support such missionaries, be concerned about them, support them, pray for them. And it's certainly true when we look at the history of the church. Sometimes the church has neglected its missionary responsibility, been too content to think that the gospel has gone everywhere already where the Lord wants it to go.
And one of the great things Christians can do is read about missionaries to encourage in them a missionary concern. And I think back to one of the missionary biographies I read by David Livingstone, I think the son or grandson of the famous David Livingstone. But he wrote about a missionary to the Calabar, Mary Slessor of the Calabar, and it was a wonderful, wonderful, encouraging story. She was a Scottish Presbyterian who went to what is now Nigeria as a missionary, greatly used of the Lord in areas that were so dangerous men wouldn't go. And she went on her own and did great work used by the Lord.
The other side of this question may be, Are we all called to speak a word for Christ where we are? And the answer to that question is yes. One of the things that strikes me that we're often fearful about as Christians is: "I don't know what to say. I don't know how to challenge people. I don't know how to call them to do this or that." And I think the model in the Scripture, at least in the first place for most Christians, is simply to talk about what the Lord has done for you. Don't ask other people to do things. Just tell people what the Lord has done for you, and if the Spirit's at work in them, they'll ask you questions, and then you're not kind of being aggressive or obnoxious. But if we can learn to just speak naturally about how the Lord has changed our lives, about how the Lord helps us, how the Lord blesses us, how the Lord encourages us, I think that'll help make us missionaries where we are.
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