Are We All Missionaries?
Imagine a speaker in a church or at a Christian conference asking listeners to raise their hands if they consider themselves to be a Christian. Every hand goes up. Next, the speaker asks how many consider themselves devoted disciples of Christ. Fewer hands are raised, and with less confidence. Finally, they ask who would call oneself a missionary. Would you raise your hand? Do you think of yourself as a missionary?
But can you be a Christian, a Jesus follower, and not be a missionary?
In Luke 10:1, Jesus appoints and sends 70 “others” (some translations, including the NIV, have 72). The number 70 symbolizes fullness, a totality. Moses appointed 70 elders (Ex. 24:1), and there were 70 members of the Sanhedrin (Num. 11:16; Ezek. 8:11).
Might the Holy Spirit be bestowing the identity, role, and authority of this “old” leadership upon those whom the Spirit is sending now? Is the Spirit appointing all of Jesus’ new followers to be instruments bearing witness to his grace and reign?
What if we are all, like the 70, ordained, appointed, chosen, and sent? In The Message, Eugene Peterson interprets Luke 10:1 this way: “The Master selected 70 and sent them ... .” The Master has selected you and me too!
I wonder how that makes us feel—excited? Fearful? Honored?
When I think about being appointed by the Lord, I wonder:
Like Isaiah, Am I worthy?
Like young Samuel, Am I hearing you, Lord?
Like David, But who am I?
Like Gideon, Am I capable?
Like Moses, What shall I say?
Like Esther, How shall I prepare?
Like Ruth, Where am I going?
Like the prophets, Who will listen?
Like Paul, Who are you, Lord?
But perhaps the most important question is How will I respond?
The first followers, the 70 and countless others, responded, “Yes, Lord,” and in all their comings and goings, in all of their ordinary, everyday lives in their communities, they bore witness to God’s grace and presence. They were missionaries! They remained, shared peace, worked alongside their neighbors, ate and drank what was set before them in community, and in so doing, obeyed Jesus’ command to tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:5-9).