By Sean Kelly
When I say the words “I’m on mission,” I don’t typically mean things of major importance. For me this phrase usually revolves around looking for something or accomplishing a task. Let me explain.
I love hiking. However, when I hike, I like to conquer the trail. I am more interested in the miles hiked than actually enjoying the walk. I once hiked the 70-mile Laurel Highlands trail in Pennsylvania in three days. Why? Because I was on a mission!
In the fall of 2015, I took my 10-year-old son on a hike on that same trail. I vividly remember the conversation I had with my wife before the trip. She said, “This hike needs to be different—you can’t kill Rogan!” She realized something that I was missing. The mission needed to be different. The weekend came for our hike, and the mission was, for sure, different. We only hiked a few miles those two days, but the time with my son was better than any trail I had ever conquered.
After that hike, I realized my wife helped me grasp something that I just couldn’t see. As individuals, we sometimes get so focused on what we want to accomplish that we miss the bigger and better mission. As Christians, sometimes we fail to see that bigger and better mission. We tend to look at people like I looked at the hiking trail: a mission to accomplish and then check off our list.
Whether consciously or subconsciously, most of us want to get our friends “saved” so we can check the proverbial, “I got my friend into Heaven” box.
The danger in this approach, however, is we make it our mission to do the convicting, and that’s not what God has asked us to do. What if God had a different mission, a better mission, in mind? What if you weren’t expected to save anyone but instead to build relationships with people and let them experience the love of Christ through you?
In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked: of all the important things a person could do in life, what is the most important? Jesus said that the greatest is to love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got. I think most of us try to live that out every day. If we assume that is true, then the second most important thing in our lives should be a natural overflow of the first—to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
Over and over again we see in Scripture that we are to love and serve others. What if we adjusted our mindset and began to see our mission as not to save people, but instead to simply love and serve our friends, coworkers, and neighbors? This would allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting work in God’s time.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 the apostle Paul said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if we actually saw ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors and really wanted to share what Jesus has done in our life when we go to work, when we have coffee with friends, when we exercise at the gym, and when we take our kids to school.
Make an Impact
My wife and I began to wrestle with this idea of a different mission a few years ago. We love Jesus; we are both in full-time church work; yet there seemed to be this void that we couldn’t explain. We knew there was something more, but we couldn’t put our finger on it.
We realized that Scripture tells us we are the body of Christ. That means we are the tangible expression of Christ’s values here on the earth. After a lot of prayer, searching, and conversations, we began to ask ourselves what would be possible if we began to look for opportunities to make an impact with the people whom God has put in our daily lives.
We made the decision to start leading with our lives, not just our words. We also got our kids involved because we wanted relational evangelism to be a natural part of their lives. With their help, we came up with a family mission statement: “Team K is a bunch of loud, fun people who love Jesus and peanut butter. We strive daily to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by showing love, grace, kindness, forgiveness, respect, compassion, and generosity to each other and those we do life with every day.”
My family began to see everything we do and every opportunity we encounter as a chance for God to use us in a profound way.
I decided to take every Tuesday morning and work remotely at a local coffee shop, which has given me the opportunity to get to know the entire staff and build some great relationships with them. The owner, who is not yet a believer, now refers to me as his Tuesday morning pastor. We have gone from talking about our families, hobbies, and aspirations to him asking me how I know God is real.
My wife got involved with our school’s parent-teacher organization. We started having some of our new friends over to our house for dinner. One of the ladies that my wife became very close to said, “I never realized I could have friends who would accept me in spite of my past mistakes.” She is now growing in her faith and is starting to reach out to her friends.
This isn’t just happening in our house. We are seeing others take similar steps. My wife’s good friend Lisa built a great relationship with her hairdresser and found out that he didn’t have anywhere to spend Thanksgiving. She invited him to spend the day with her family at their home.
Our friends Shawn and Kerri realized that they eat 21 meals a week. They made the decision to take one meal per week on Fridays and invite their friends to have dinner with them at their table and see where God takes it. This idea grew so much that most Fridays they have 8 to 10 families hanging out at their house doing life together, and they are now serving their local community.
There are so many different ways that we can represent the kingdom of God in our everyday life. Where do you begin? Here are a few ideas:
• Invite some friends or coworkers over for dinner or go out to eat.
• Become a regular at a local café, pub, or bank.
• Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with coworkers and learn their stories.
• Intentionally go to the same checkout clerk at your local grocery store simply to get to know them. Don’t be afraid to ask about their family, etc.
Then just see where God takes these relationships. Don’t rush to get them saved. Simply be a good friend and a good listener. Remember—you are an ambassador of Christ, and often there is a bigger and better mission than you ever imagined!
Sean Kelly is the Lead Minister of Greenford Christian Church in Northeast Ohio.