And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. – Matthew 9:35
We do not need to look to another example of being a missionary, other than the person and work of Christ. Jesus’ ministry did not begin when He went public at age 30. It began before time began, as the Father purposed to redeem His people through His Son. God became a man. That is where the missionary story of Jesus begins. God took on flesh and blood and experienced what we experienced, yet without sin. God lived on earth amongst humanity and breathed the same air that we breathe. Jesus grew up, had brothers and sisters, parents and responsibilities. He had to learn, study, experience puberty and young adulthood. He had friends, enemies, stalkers and backstabbers. He knew how it was to be mistreated, mocked, lied about, accused falsely and betrayed. When Jesus saw people – He knew what they were experiencing. He ministered to them from an understanding of who they were and what they had been through.
God’s missionary work is not detached from names and faces. God’s missionary work is not about numbers, lists or prospects. Jesus knew peoples names (Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10), their past (woman at the well, John 4), and their present need. Matthew tells us here that Jesus went “throughout all the cities and villages”. Jesus went to where the people were. What did he do in these cities and villages? He taught and healed whomever He encountered. Jesus compassionately and lovingly met the needs of the people to whom He was sent. Sadly though, I believe that many believers are detached from the same kind of passionate connection with a dying and lost world. We have become contented as a culture to watch from afar and let the world spin as if Jesus never came.
Jesus modeled for us a radical lifestyle of loving, serving and showing truth to everyone. This lifestyle of sacrificial ministry was not comfortable. Jesus traveled around oftentimes hungry, thirsty and tired. How can we engage the needs of our city? How can we expose the darkness in our city? If we are not fully engaging our cities with a heartfelt need and likewise compassion – we will miss the boat on what God is doing to build His Kingdom. I want us to think through what this means for us to live in our cities as missionaries. What will consume us? Will we be solely focused on having the crowds come to us? Or will we lovingly go to where the crowds are and give them the only hope that will transform their broken hearts? What changes do we need to make as a church to have this become a reality? What changes do you need to make personally? Let us change our rally cry from a “come to us”…. to a “we are going to you”.