Monday, February 13, 2012

The Reluctant Missionary

Two Sundays ago I spoke about how Jesus began to send the twelve apostles out in 2's. They finally got to live up to their name as 'sent ones.'The list of pairs begins with the extrovert missional over achievers. Peter and Andrew, James and John, the front-footed fisherman brothers. Fishermen itching to fish for men.

Down near the bottom of the list are Thomas and Matthew. Probably not quite as eager. Thomas the cynical melancholic, still full of doubt about Jesus. Matthew the
tax collector, more than likely fearful of engaging a people who resent all he represents. I can't imagine that there was any real confidence or chemistry in this team. But Jesus sent them nonetheless with a clear mission. Preach repentance. Heal the sick. Cast out demons. It wasn't a complex mission. But it was mission impossible without Jesus' authority.

The simplicity of their mission informs ours. It is, "To Glorify the Father in the power of the Spirit by proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus."
It's simplicity is so that it can be owned and carried by a whole community.I am as concerned by the scope of the mission as I am it's simplicity. Every time the church allows the missional burden to be carried only by the experts; the Andrews and Peters, the James and Johns, the mission weakens and slows down.

But when the reluctant missionaries; the Thomas's and Matthews, begin to carry the missional burden, that's when something special begins to happen in a community. The introverts, the cynics and the doubters who go in reliance on Christ's authority and the Spirit's power, these are what make a community truly missional.

You know that doubting Thomas became the Apostle to India, don't you? He was martyred for his faith, but not before he saw many turn to Christ and the church established. Coincidentally, a man in our church has an Indian friend called George Thomas, who happens a Christian. In India there was a tradition among the first Christians, where a convert took on the name of the person who first preached the Gospel to him. This was the case with George's ancestors. It was Thomas, the reluctant apostle, whose message changed the course of this family by the power of the Gospel. And the seed of Thomas's faithful witness continues to bear fruit many centuries later. Doubting, reluctant, willing Thomas.

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