I recently started working on my own personal mission statement. And that task (an assignment for the School of Ministry PLC hosted this year) has led me to think about what Paul’s mission statement might look like. All kinds of words come to mind: “to proclaim, teach, write, and serve.” But then I noticed this statement Paul mentions in Acts 13:47: “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
I don’t’ know your response to this, but my first thought stops on, “I have made you.” Paul didn’t choose his mission, did he? God did. He simply, by his very actions, responded ‘yes’ to the Almighty over and over again whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit sent him. And hasn’t God called each of us in the same way? None of us are likely to have quite as far-reaching an impact as Paul, but as God’s children we are made for mission – right where we worship and work.
We know Paul’s pattern was to go first to the synagogue in each city he was sent to. It was the hub of the city, so it was the logical place to start. We know also that this eventually, and very often, resulted in trouble. After a warm invitation to speak in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:15), Paul and Barnabas are invited to say more at a second Sabbath meeting. This time, “…almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” (Acts 13:44) I love that! The town was buzzing!! Why? Because Paul, living out his mission, ignited the call to mission in others! And they brought their friends. Curiosity is a powerful force, and it doesn’t take much to stir it up in the hearts and minds of people who are looking for good news! It doesn’t take much either (sigh), to expose jealousy, anger and defensiveness!
On Sunday, Pastor Rob asked, “Are we living in days that are like Paul’s?” I would say we are, wouldn’t you? But in spite of cynicism about the church as an institution, people are looking for purpose and meaning in their lives. They’re curious about spiritual matters; open to hearing about the relationship we’ve found with Jesus – if we share our stories with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Just as Paul found in Athens (Acts 17), there’s “an unknown god” many long to know by name. The marketplace is wide open territory for the Gospel message. And, who knows? It may just be the very place God has called you to live out your own personal mission statement – and “bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”