One thing about missions trips that I find beautiful is the simplicity of being.
What I mean is, life becomes simple in a holy way: All that matters each day is that we accomplish a work for God — something of eternal kingdom value. Working intentionally for God’s glory in any mission context is incredibly satisfying.
For example, on my mission trip to Thailand, even in the local culture of sabai-sabai (everything is “chill”), I still felt incredibly purposed driven. And with that God-given purpose came joy, not grumbling or questioning.
But life back home doesn’t always feel that way. I’m fortunate enough that I have a job I know I’m called to, so I don’t drag my feet to work. But there are still days where it’s a grind, and I’m tempted to lose sight of that original purpose and passion. I lose the joy and clarity that comes from a life of God-centred single-mindedness.
And in this stale context, the clock resets. You start counting down the days to the next mission trip, or the next holiday or whatever it is that will numb this second, “lesser” state of being.
Why is that?
Why the pendulum between the mission and the mundane? My conclusion is some of us might be leading two lives: The “mission” and the “grind”. Let me break it down further:
- In my mission field, I live an intentional life centred on doing God’s “one thing”.
- In Singapore I do a hundred things in one day, and only a few of those things are for God.
See, in the mission context, even the mundane things magically fall under the hierarchy of being done for God. For example, in the simple act of taking out the trash, it’s done intentionally so that God’s workers can keep going in a clean environment.
But in Singapore our eyes aren’t quite opened that way. If I have to take out the trash it’s a lot easier to ask, “Why do I have to do this? Why can’t someone else do it?”
And the reason for that spirit is because many of us work with a wrong hierarchy when it comes to God. We like to rank priorities. We say that God is number one, and then we rank other things below Him like family, work and relationships. It sounds good – but it falls short.
The correct mindset to have is God as number one in all things: God enthroned in my family, God enthroned in work, God enthroned over my relationships.
That’s what Jesus at the centre of it all means —”mission life” is that glimpse of a life ordered by a holy hierarchy.
What would Jesus find us doing in Singapore?
Would we still be standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side for the Gospel? What is the spirit of our life? And what are we truly striving for?
What would life look like if enjoying God, desiring God, furthering the kingdom or doing God’s work was also the overarching priority of our lives – just as it so tangibly is in the mission field?
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)
This is Paul is writing to the church in Philippi with much thanksgiving and joy. In the same chapter this portion comes a little after the famous part of Philippians where Paul says “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.
I know a life with Jesus at the centre will be a glorious one – and it’s there for the taking. If you’re a regular mission tripper, let’s pray that the Lord will help us to take that intentionality from missions back into “normal” daily life.
God, help us discover what a life for Christ looks like.
With an expected one billion people in Asia moving from rural to urban areas by the year 2030, the number of world city dwellers is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. There is an urgent call to the Church, especially as the majority of new urban dwellers will be young (under 25 years old) and live below the poverty line ($2 a day).
The GoForth National Missions Conference, happening June 21-23, 2018, will look at an array of diverse strategies to empower individuals and churches to reach and transform cities with the love of Christ. Visit their website to find out out more.