Christian Excuses: There are lost people here in America
Every missionary has heard this one at least once, especially when a family is not supportive of someone’s desire to go overseas to do missionary work. When people say “There are lost people here in America, why don’t you just stay here and work,” It can be very frustrating because we know that they are just spiritualizing what they want to say. Which is, “I don’t want my loved one to go because I like spending time with them. For the conveyer of this excuse, the comfort of family and friends is simply more important than the Great Commission.
The basic premise of the statement is true. There are lost people in America. There are lost and hurting people in rural areas who are ravaged by meth and poverty. In the inner-cities, you have a plague of fatherlessness and violent crime. In our workplaces, we have people who are overworking themselves to make more money so that they can buy things that they don’t need, just trying to fill a hole in their hearts. Our schools are full of kids who are depressed, anxious, and suicidal.
There are significant needs in the US. There is no doubt. That does not negate Jesus’ command to the church to go to the ends of the earth, making disciples. We should be doing both.
We should be reaching out to our community as well as overseas. Acts 1:8 says "we will be His witnesses in Jerusalem (home town), Judea (state), Samaria (out of your comfort zone), & to the ends of the earth (internationally)."
There are more than 400,000 Evangelical churches in the United States of America. It seems to me that there are more than enough Christians in the US to affect change in these areas and make an impact on lostness if they wanted to.
But before we express our desire to keep our loved ones near to us, we must ask another question.
If you believe that there are lost and hurting people there in America, are you doing anything to change that? Are you spending yourself to bring hope to the hopeless? Are you speaking the truth of the gospel at work? I know a lot of people that are doing just that. They are not usually the ones who would be guilty of this excuse, because they get it. They understand the urgent need. There are two obvious needs that I would like to share with you.
First, the lost sheep spread throughout the world need to be brought into the community of Christ to find healing, faith, love, and purpose. This is the only place they will find fulfillment and acceptance. It is the only way they will know their creator and the reconciliation that he offers. Without this good news, they will stumble around lost and afraid until they die, alone. If you are in Christ, that should make your heart ache.
Secondly, the church needs to be actively participating in Jesus Final command to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” We cannot alleviate the guilt of our disobedience with over-spiritualized excuses. A church that is not fulfilling her mission is a disobedient group of disciples at best or a rebellious band of heretics at worst. It is the Great Commission that defines the church.
We were not put on this earth to legislate morality into government systems. Neither were we sent here to argue with lost people about their sinful behavior. We were sent to be a light in the darkness. Making Christ desirable should be the outcome of our actions, but often our behavior results in the opposite.
So, if you are guilty of this excuse, it’s okay. There is still time to reconsider, here is my advice to you: Ask the person why they want to go overseas and serve & carefully listen to their response. If their response seems to line up with what scripture commands us to do, then tell them it will be difficult for you, but that you support them.
Your sacrifice is real. It is so difficult to say goodbye. But there will be many people who are eternally grateful for your sacrifice. They might not have had an opportunity to hear the gospel if it had not been for your sacrifice.
If you are trying to share with loved ones who don’t want you to go, be patient with them, but don’t compromise what you feel God is calling you to do. Invite them to come to visit you and see what your new life looks like. They will probably see things from a completely different perspective.
In Acts 5:29, when the religious authorities told Peter and the apostles to stop preaching the gospel and stirring up religious traditions, they replied, “We must obey God, rather than men.” So, after all is said and done, obedience must be our final word.
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