“Hi! Are you ready to give up everything you know to go tell someone you don’t know in a far away place about Jesus?”
If asking people to serve overseas as career missionaries seems direct or unreasonable, it may be because we have not yet recognized the value of the offer. We know the difference between a brass penny and a paper one hundred dollar bill only because someone taught us the difference in value.
As believers in Christ what we do is help other people understand the value of something that we all really, really need. We may not recognize the great value of what is offered to us until God shows us through His people and His written word. Even then there is a choice as to whether a person will receive the messenger well enough to believe the message.
As a child on the mission field I lived on a wet rice farm which doubled as a coconut plantation. Coconuts were everywhere! Near the dense jungle by the river we often found empty coconuts on the ground near where troops of monkeys frequently passed. The hole in a coconut shell was usually slightly bigger than the size of a monkey’s hand.
This led to talk about how to catch a monkey. Someone wrote in a book that one could catch a monkey by putting a shiny object inside of a coconut shell. The monkey would grasp the object inside the hole, not let go and not be able to pull his clenched fist out of the hole. We could tie the coconut shell to a tree and catch a monkey!
I was told that the only way the monkey would let go is if he found something even more shiny nearby.
Are people like that? I have seen people let go of a one dollar bill (or three!) in exchange for a one hundred dollar bill. I am still not sure why a monkey would look inside an empty coconut shell on the ground when there were shells full of food in the treetop.
How do you approach someone about giving up everything they know for someone they don’t know?
You dangle something better in front of them!
The whole issue with considering missionary service is deciding whether or not we will believe God. Did God mean what He said? Can I really trust Him enough to let go of what I have? Can I trust Him to enable me to serve? Can I trust Him to provide? Can I trust Him to protect my family? Can I trust Him that what I do with my life will have greater value than what I will have to give up? Can I trust Him to do something meaningful through my efforts?
Jesus had a few things to say about our earthly living:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23-24 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Matthew 6:24-25
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Why would Jesus tell people such apparently difficult things?
It is because He has something so very much better for those who will trust Him!
He is asking us to enter into a relationship where we are finding Him sufficient for every need.
Is Jesus enough for me? Do I really believe Him?
Is what I want really something else?
Do I really believe Him …about who He is? …about what He has promised? …about what is in store for the future?
Do I value Him above all else? (Matthew 10:16-42)
When Jesus tells us to give up everything, it is because He has something very much better for us!