“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23, NIV). What important principle is Paul espousing here, and how can we reflect this same attitude in our own lives?
The Lord of missions, in His wisdom, chose to work through humans to bring the message of forgiveness and salvation to the world. God chose men and women, despite their weaknesses, to work together with the Holy Spirit and the angels. Israel was to be God’s steady “light” in Old Testament times, but too often they put their light “under a basket” (Matt. 5:15, NKJV). Too many times the blessings they received were kept inside Israel. Instead of mixing and sharing, they shut themselves away from the nations in order to escape “contamination.” God’s next plan for world mission called for the salt method—to go “and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19, NKJV; Mark 16:15, 20; Acts 1:8).
The history of Christian missions sparkles with stories of self- sacrificing missionaries who went as salt to the world, bringing the gospel of life to individuals, communities, and sometimes entire nations. However, as with ancient Israel, too often these mission successes have been obscured by the human shortcomings of the missionaries themselves and their overall mission enterprise. These human shortcomings include (1) poor planning for outreach, inadequate understanding of the task; (2) narrow focus on mission only as education, health care, disaster relief, or development, which overshadow preaching the gospel; (3) underfunding and understaffing by the sending organizations; (4) missionaries unsuited to the task; and (5) nations that forbid the preaching of the gospel.
Of course, no one ever said that it was going to be easy. We are in the midst of a great controversy, and the enemy will work every way he can to thwart our outreach efforts, whether in our own neighborhoods or in the most “remote” corners of the world. We, though, mustn’t be discouraged, because we have been given many wonderful promises of power, and we can be sure that God will fulfill His purposes on earth. As we have been told: “ ‘So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it’ ” (Isa. 55:11, NKJV).
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q3 2015 «Biblical Missionaries» Lesson 13 – Must the Whole World Hear?