I sat and listened to a friend who has served in East Asia for seven years talk about how they are sharing the Good News and discipling new believers. I found joy in hearing the things God is doing through their work. It stirred up feelings of pride. Pride. Now that’s an interesting emotion in response to what he was sharing.
My missionary friend was giving a report of his work to a team of pastors and lay leaders. The more I listened, I sensed an air of…hmm how should I put it? Arrogance? I can’t speak for my friends in the room, so I have to confess my own attitude.
I have been in these kind of meetings before. Representatives of the American church asking a missionary who has been serving faithfully, sacrificially, on the field for an account of the work they are doing. Nothing wrong with that.
We want to hear of the good work. We want to know how we can pray and encourage. We also want to know what kind of return we our getting from our financial investment.
The wealth of the American church creates this mindset. We have the money, so we make the rules kind of thing. We develop what is called a “God complex.” Because of our economic status as a whole, we somehow think we know what’s best for others to do and how they should do it.
Here was a faithful servant who moved his young family to the other side of the world, spending his days making sure he not only can remain in the country, but also planning how he can reach his new neighbors with the Good News of Christ. Many of whom had not heard of the name of Jesus Christ, not even once.
Here are a few questions that came to mind as I sat in this meeting:
- If this missionary lived life there the way we live life here, would we withdraw our support? Not a fair question you say? We give that money to support him so we rightfully expect him and others serving like him to be accountable to us for their work.
- Why are we not living with the same sense of purpose and urgency right here in our neighborhoods?
- Who is asking us questions about how we are sharing about the love of God with our neighbors?
- Who asks us how we spend our time and money? Both as individuals and as a church?
If these questions are offensive to us as Christians, then we probably are arrogant in our approach to missions, both locally and globally. When we expect certain activity from our overseas missionaries that is different than what we expect of ourselves right here at home simply because we pay their salaries, we lack a passion for missions.
When this happens, we outsource mission work to others and manage their progress.
However, when we share a passion with our overseas missionaries to see everyone, both here and abroad, have opportunities to know Jesus Christ, we then see ourselves as peers in the work of the Great Commission. We share experiences, support, finances, resources of all kind to see the work done all around the world.
I left that meeting asking God for forgiveness for my arrogant, prideful heart when I had nothing to be prideful about. After all, everything we have comes from Him. He no doubt has a reason for blessing this group of people with incredible wealth.
May we be faithful in stewarding it well. May we have a passion for those who don’t know Him. A passion that compels us to live in the same manner we expect our “missionaries” to live.