The route (highway?) to a successful mission is preparation. And along the side of that highway should be a number of encouraging signs! As I prepare volunteers for missions, I find myself repeating important, encouraging themes. And some of those encouraging thoughts are the source of this post. One thing we usually cover is what I call ‘compartmental’ living. It’s a subtle temptation for us. And we should work hard to avoid it!
Potholes In The Highway
Our culture believes in ‘compartmental living.’ And that’s the source of its subtle nature. The idea permeates our society. People actually believe one part of life doesn’t impact another part of life. This idea shows up across the spectrum, but it’s easiest (and more fun!) to pick on the politicians. From that group we have heard things like:
- It was just sex! It doesn’t mean he’s not fit to serve in office.
- Lies don’t reflect on character.
We could all name people of both parties caught is sex scandals and it would decimate entire forests to manufacture the paper required to write down all their lies. And have you noticed that political resumes seem to be enhanced in direct proportion to the whoppers told? These are the very people who want us to believe Christians are entitled to practice their faith as long as they do it at church. Say what??? In real life, that thought would mean something like this:
At church, I believe I shouldn’t lie, steal, or kill. But when I leave, it’s OK for me lie, steal, and kill.
That’s compartmental thinking, And it requires very little effort to tear down that kind of thinking(?). But their demand for Christians to compartmentalize life is their way to keep us from ‘inflicting’ society with faith in God. The inconsistency is easy to see. And it’s as useful as a pothole in the highway.
Highway: Avoid Entrapment
Disciples often fail to see the trap of a compartmentalized approach to faith. We see the inconsistencies of politicians and laugh, flinch, or both. But we would never be that inconsistent, right? Let’s see.
Mission volunteers in particular, and believers in general, think in terms of life here at home and then there’s missions. That is a compartmentalized view. The truth begins in Isaiah, and it is what I often share with mission volunteers:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight a highway in the desert!
Good Bible students will recognize that as the ministry of John the Baptist. But it is also our ministry. So what does that have to do with missions or your daily life? Our mission is to make a path for the Gospel. How do we do that? The short answer is:
By Word and Deed.
These two things can be a straight super-highway or they can be much like the road in this picture! Which kind of road would you rather travel? But don’t answer in terms of you and your car. The question is really about the highway we make so another person can ‘travel’ to faith.
Building The Road
Every mission team works hard to build a good straight ‘road’ to faith. We faithfully declare and teach the Word. But the actions we take (typically called mission projects) demonstrate the Word we speak. When we staff a medical clinic, put a floor in a batey home, or provide for widows and orphans we are living lessons on what the Word means. It makes a straight highway because the Words and the Deeds are in agreement. There is consistency between what people hear and what they see.
And now it should be easy to see the problem. If we think ‘mission’ is over there but all the rest of life is here then we have fallen victim to a compartmentalized view. For believers, LIFE is mission – it’s just a matter of location. Paul said it this way in Philippians 1:21 –
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
We should view ourselves as ‘on mission’ every day in every place. If we don’t, then we are apt to present a curvy, confusing road to faith. And given the state of our culture, I’d say many people haven’t seen a clear, straight path for the Gospel in quite some time.
So let me say it another way just to emphasize the point. What’s true for the mission teams so many of you have staffed and equipped is true for each of us: Your life IS a mission. Why? I Corinthians 6:20 tells us:
You are not your own, you are bought with a price.
Please pray for our Fall mission opportunities. And please remember we are looking for Helping Hands to sponsor pastors. Equipping pastors to equip others will help build a straight highway for many to journey to faith. Helping Hands are needed.