One of the greatest fears a missionary lives under is... will I offend someone? The problem with this is that fear produces a semi-paralysis. A missionary is by definition a leader. We've left our culture to lead others into a deeper relationship with Jesus. This is a whole new culture and lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that throws off and embraces truth and love. It is unhealthy to live and lead through fear. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
To be a God-honoring, growing Christian, one must replace his birth culture with the Biblical culture. I must leave my American worldview and look at the world through a Biblical worldview. Every culture has elements of truth in it, which are twisted by human traditions. Missionaries must navigate both cultures and lead in applying God's culture to daily life and communication. This is itself is a new culture - the Jesus culture.
The first part of leading in this cultural shift is to establish relationships that are mutually grounded in this truth: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8. We have to garden relationships where we give each other grace to practice this truth and love lifestyle.
Do The True! Truth. It is WHO Jesus is. Jesus Christ IS infinite, pure truth. That's why a Jesus lifestyle is one of pure truth. The Biblical culture is one that practices truth in communication, body language, actions, emotions, and thoughts. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:25. Ten verses earlier, God tells us that if we want to grow up to be like Jesus, we have to speak the truth in love.
Cultural differences and miscommunications happen at home and they happen abroad. As Christians, we are all defined by the culture of our new kingdom: Jesus' country. Jesus' culture. A culture of love and truth. Love and truth are the opposite of the world's cultures which can use manipulation and lies. That is why being a Christian is so difficult. 100% truth and 100% love is counter-cultural to every culture on the planet. By our lifestyle, we impose Jesus' culture of truth and love on those who choose to be in relationship with us.
"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Luke 10:2
Would you say that Jesus was a Man on a mission? Jesus had seasons in His life. Each season was lived in submission to God's plan for His life. Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Jesus, presumably, learned work ethic and how to handle daily stress as a carpenter. Jesus was homeless for three years, pouring His vitality into life-on-life discipleship. He purchased His planet-wide kingdom by giving His life on the cross for His people. Conquering sin and it's penalty, He took back His life. Now, He's about the business of calling His sheep from every tribe and tongue.
What season are you in? Are you growing in stature and wisdom? Are you learning life/career skills? Are you giving up your 3-bedroom home to do life-on-life discipleship? As we die to our dreams, we find that our mission merges with Christ's plan to build His kingdom in villages and neighborhoods where you'll be misunderstood and challenged to die to yourself so that others can find life in Christ. As Americans, we tend to think of our lives as one season. I have a family and we're living a stable life in the States. But, is that Biblical? Challenging thoughts! Will you ponder them?
If you live in Washington or Oregon, please attend this conference on January 20-21 in Portland. It is where our journey into Metro Manila began. The question they ask, "Who is able?" Where this question meets reality is "Who is willing?" Aren't you glad that Jesus was willing?