I gave my life to Christ at the age of nine. I understood then, as much as young boy can, that I was making a commitment to become a Christ follower. That meant allowing Christ to control every aspect of my life. I knew that my life was no longer mine. I was to model my life, attitude and actions after Him. Whatever Christ did, I was supposed to do.
Scripture tells us to imitate Christ, walk as He did and follow His steps. (1 John 2:6, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21). I didn’t know that I would one day serve as a missionary or go on a mission trip. But I have come to understand that if I’m a Christ follower, I am also a missionary, because that’s what He was.
A missionary is defined by the North American Mission Board of the SBC as a person who, in response to God’s call and gifting, leaves his or her comfort zone and crosses cultural, geographic or other barriers to proclaim the Gospel and live out a Christian witness in obedience to the Great Commission.
Jesus became the first missionary when He left heaven and came down to earth. God called His son to leave the comfort of heaven and go to earth. Now that’s a change of geography and culture for sure! His mission was to seek and save the lost who needed to be rescued. He engaged the indigenous people of the earth while proclaiming the Gospel. He lived His life as a witness to the Father’s love. What a missionary He was!
I want my life to reflect Christ and pray that people see Him in me. If I want to be like Christ in every way, it will mean going as a missionary because that’s what He did. I might not cross an ocean, but I will need to cross the street or grocery isle. I might not go to a foreign land, but I will need to engage the internationals in my community. I might not be sent by a mission agency, but I have been sent by Christ Himself (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20). I am thankful to be a follower of Christ AND missionary – you can’t be one and not the other.