Hear these words from the 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:
‘He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”‘
Each of us is a missionary where we are – where we live, work, and play. The questions are: Are we equipped to be one? And will we be one, where we live, work, and play? A missionary is a disciple who makes disciples – not a consumer, or a net-worker, who shows us in a religious place, to receive a religious benefit.
In his book, Evangelism as Exiles, Eliot Clark shares that fear and shame are the two barriers – the two road blocks – that most of us face, when we seek to be disciples who make disciples. Where does that fear come from? What is that shame?
We fear rejection. We fear being looked at, strangely. We may feel shame about appearing “different” – “Are you one of those people?” “Do you really believe all that stuff?”
But at a deeper level, that fear and shame come from what Jesus speaks about, in Matthew 16: “the gates of hell”. Wow! Really? Yes, that’s what Jesus puts in front of us – before we ever get to the point of society breaking down, and the church dying in our hands, we allow fear and shame to determine our witness to Jesus Christ.
Jesus promises that those evil feelings can’t finally prevail. So here’s what we’re going to do: Stomp them out, now, before they become a fire. And the way we put out the fire, is through prayer, worship together – the devil loves nothing so much as to get us alone, and attack us with fear and shame – , and time in God’s Word.
In prayer, we speak to the Lord who makes this promise, and we let him speak that promise to us. In worship, we band together as Christ’s body – his team – and are reinforced, when we feel weak, despondent. When we dive into, and meditate on God’s Word, God will meet us there, and use his Word to give us hope, boldness, and confidence. To do what?
To be missionaries on the go, where we live, work, and play.
Thom Rainer, in his book The Unchurched Next Door, cites a study that tells us something sobering: Most unchurched people do not sense that Christians are actively sharing their faith, and they wonder why Christians are so hesitant.
This tells us something very important, that we might not suspect: Unchurched people would be open to talking about Christ, but most Christians don’t talk to them about their faith.
Pray “on the go”, as you work, live, and play with people who don’t know Christ, or who believe, but have fallen asleep in their faith. Pray, and then look for open doors to begin conversations about deeper matters: family, friendships, work, marriage, children, happiness – the deeper things that God takes up in his Word.
And remember: Jesus has promised that the hellish feelings of fear and shame can’t defeat his purposes. He is with us, to guide us out of these, and into his kingdom of courage and hope.