There is an excellent blog of a North American missionary wife and mother called Jamie, the very worst missionary: inappropriate comments, embarrassing antics and generally lame observations of an American missionary. It is one of the most followed missionary blogs. Jamie is honest and attempts--rather successfully as it turns out--to blow away some of the myths of missionary life. It is well worth a read.
Conversely I want us to reflect upon the very best missionary: Jesus Christ. I want to continue thinking this week about how we can know whether we are doing a good job in mission or not. This is, of course, an unanswerable question and we will only truly know when we meet Christ in person, however, that is no excuse for not thinking through the issue now! So, this week I want to think about Jesus as the very best missionary; to look at him as an example or a model.
In the evangelical world we have avoided the idea that Jesus is an example, or to see his teaching as vital. Jesus is our saviour not our model or example. This was the reaction, however, in the last few years we have recovered from that reactionary disease and begun to see the importance the gospel writers put upon Jesus as our example.
I would give three major reasons we can do this. Firstly, the Apostle Paul views Jesus as the New Humanity. Jesus Christ is the founder of a new race to dwell in the New Creation. In Ephesians 2:15, Paul declares that Christ is making Jew and Gentiles one. "His [Christ's] purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace". Colossians 1:18 says that he is "firstborn from among the dead". We are created in Him to be part of a New Humanity. He is our forerunner.
Secondly, Paul uses Christ as an example of humility. Philippians 2:5 says, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus". Jesus, in his attitudes and therefore his lifestyle is an example to us. This is followed by that wonderful hymn of worship to Christ, who shows his greatness in his humility. He is the example of the very best missionary.
Finally, Christ can be an example to us because John tells us so! In John 20:21, Jesus commissions his disciples, "as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." In the same way the Father sent Jesus into the world, Jesus is sending us. His mission is the measure of ours. If we want to know how we are doing, look to him.
Over the next few days we will consider various ways in which we can follow Jesus in mission.