Key To Missionary Problem
By Andrew Murray
How can the church be aroused to know and to do our Lord’s will for the salvation of men?
There is no greater spiritual and mysterious truth than that Christ our Head is actually and entirely dependent upon the members of His body for carrying out the plans which He, as Head, has formed. Only spiritual men, and a church in which spiritual men have influence, are capable of rightly carrying out Christ’s commands. The clearest argument, the most forcible appeals, result in very little where this is not understood and aimed at as the true standard of Christian devotion.
I feel very deeply that, to the friends of missions striving to see the whole perspective of the purpose of God and His kingdom, this is the most important question: How can we lead the whole church to make herself available to the Lord for the work to which He has destined her and depends on her?
The Missionary Problem Is a Personal One
If the church is really to take up its work, it is not enough that we speak of the obligation resting upon the present generation to make Christ known to everyone. True education must always deal with the individual mind. To the general command must always be added the personal one. Nelson’s signal, “England expects every man to do his duty,” was a personal appeal addressed to every seaman, not just his fleet.
As we seek to find out why, with such millions of Christians, the real army of God that is fighting the hosts of darkness is so small, the only answer is – lack of heart. The enthusiasm of the kingdom is missing. And that is because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.
Though much may be done by careful organization and strict discipline and good generalship to make the best of the few troops we have, there is nothing that can so restore confidence and courage as the actual presence of a beloved King, to whom every heart beats warm in loyalty and devotion.
The missionary appeal must go deeper and seek to deal with the very root of the evil. If there is no desire for soul-winning at home, how can the interest in the distant unevangelized be truly deep or spiritual? There may be many motives to which we appeal effectively in asking for supplies of men and money – the compassion of a common humanity, the alleviation of the evils of pagan people, the elevation of fellow-human beings in the scale of human life, the claims of our church or society. But the true and highest motive is the only one that will really call forth the spiritual power of the church, for the work to be done.
If the missionary appeal to this generation to bring the Gospel to every person is to be successful, the church will have to gird itself for the work in a very different way from what it has been doing. The most serious question the church has to face just now – in fact, the only real difficulty of the missionary problem – is how she is to be awakened as a whole to the greatness and the glory of the task entrusted to her and be led to engage in it with all her heart and strength.
The only answer to that question – the key to the whole situation – appears to be the simple truth: The missionary problem is a personal one. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Author and Leader of Missions. Whoever stands right with Him, and abides in Him, will be ready to know and do His will. It is simply a matter of being near enough to Him to hear His voice, and so devoted to Him and His love as to be ready to do all His will.
Christ’s whole relation to each of us is an intensely personal one. He loved me and gave Himself for me. My relation to Him is an entirely personal one. He gave Himself a ransom for me, and I am His, to live for Him and His glory. He has breathed His love into my heart, and I love Him. He tells me that, as a member of His Body, He needs me for His service, and in love I gladly yield myself to Him. He wants nothing more than that I should tell this to others, prove to them how He loves, how He enables us to love, and how blessed is a life in His love.
The personal element of this missionary problem must be put in the foreground. Every missionary sermon or meeting must give the love of Christ the first place. If Christians are in a low, cold, worldly state, the first object must be to wait on God in prayer and faith for His Holy Spirit to lead them to a true devotion to Jesus Christ.
Will that be an apparent loss of time in not beginning at once with the ordinary missionary information and pleas? Ah, no – it will soon be made up. Weak believers, who are glad to hear and give, must be lifted to the consciousness of the wonderful spiritual privilege of offering themselves to Christ to live for His kingdom. They must be encouraged to believe that the Lord who loves them, greatly prizes their love, and will enable them to bring it to Him.
They must learn that Christ’s dying love asks for whole-hearted devotion, and that the more they sacrifice, the more will that love possess them. As definitely as we labor to secure the interest and the gifts of each individual, even more so we must labor to bring each one into contact with Christ Himself.
At first it may appear as if we are aiming too high. In many congregations the response may be very weak. Let the pastor give himself to study the missionary problem in this light. Let him put it to his people, clearly and perseveringly:
You have been redeemed to be the witnesses and messengers of Christ’s love. To fit you for it, His love has been given you and shed abroad in your heart. As He loves you, He loves the whole world. He wants those who know it to tell those who don’t know it. His love to you and to them, your love to Him and to them, call you to do it. It is your highest privilege; it will be your highest happiness and perfection. As Christ gave Himself, give yourself wholly to this work of love.
– From Key To The Missionary Problem by Andrew Murray, contemporized and copyright 1979 by Leona Choy.