I’ve been studying the book of Matthew lately and have been struck by the three missionaries in chapter 12. Here’s the reference:
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
While these were three real historical people, they represent different current views of proclaiming the gospel. Let’s look at them one at a time shall we?
Jonah: Jonah was told to go and proclaim repentance to a certain people group, not any people group mind you, the most miserable and roten people you’ve ever heard of. A people who probably were the cause of a ton of strife in Jonah’s life. He probably knew people who were greatly mistreated, beaten, and even killed at the hands of these ruthless Ninevites, yet God called him to GO and proclaim repentance among these brutal people. We all know the story, Jonah went the other way, was swallowed by a giant fish, offered up a bogus prayer of “sorrow,” and ended up proclaiming repentance for around 4.6 seconds in a ginormous city, only to see the entirety of the population come to fear and know the Lord, but how long did that last (see the rest of the Bible concerning Assyria)? Jonah is the missionary who goes (willingly or unwillingly) to a people, helps out for a bit, preaches justification, and takes off or moves on without any care for the rest of their lives.
Solomon: Solomon’s dad just so happened to be the ideal king of a people group that was supposed to be the example to a fallen world, and while his dad was the ideal king, Solomon had the ideal kingdom. Everyone wanted to come see what he was up to. People came from all around to ask, “Bro, what’s your deal that God would bless you so much?” You know how your middle school/high school youth pastor told you to live a life in such a way that people would be compelled to ask you, “How can I be saved?” And how it was just that easy, all you had to do was to avoid the big three: Smoking, Drinking, and Premarital Sex and you wouldn’t need to have any awkward conversation with anyone, but that they would bang down your door wanting to be just like you? Solomon may be the only guy that actually lived that type of life. All he needed to do to spread the gospel was to be awesome; to do awesome things and to build awesome stuff. Nothing out of his comfort level, just do you’re own deal and people will inevitably come to you.
Jesus: The last of the missionaries we’ll look at didn’t have huge numbers of converts, didn’t (eventually) have anyone come seek him out to follow his lead, and pretty much ended up as poorly as you can imagine with 12…make that 11 followers who, to a man, ended up deserting him as He died a criminals death exposed before all to see. Jesus had to find his own followers, He had to call them out of their comfortable lives into a life filled with uncertainty and hardship. He had to take them from unknowing to knowledgable, from dimwitted to enlightened. He had to struggle with their struggles and didn’t have much time after their successes to celebrate before they made huge morons of themselves (see Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ only to be called Satan four verses later).
With hindsight and name recognition on our side, it’s easy to see who the hero of the three missionaries is, it’s Jesus. Jesus with his ragtag group of half-retarded fisherman followers. Jesus, even though he died a sinners death naked and alone. Jesus, even though his list of greatest achievements were all allocated to His Father. Jesus is the example we need follow. This is what we hope to do in the Dominican Republic. Please don’t expect to hear about some crazy big tent revival with a billion people professing repentance, don’t expect us to be the only civilized people in an otherwise barbaric land who have half naked tribesman coming out of the woodworks asking us why we are so different, no we aim to attack a country of otherwise dead sinners the same way Jesus did, by making disciples.
Jesus, the true God/Man spent three years making 12 disciples with a 91.6% success rate. We hope to be in the Dominican Republic for the rest of our lives. We’re 32 now, let’s say we have 30 good years left in us, now accounting for the lack of miracles and that neither of us are the fullness of deity dwelling in the body of a man, let’s divide the full number of disciples by three, round up, and multiply by 10; that means we’re hoping to change the lives of 40 people. That’s it. Forty people. Assuming we never need another cent than the $2,500 a month we’ll currently need, that comes to $900,000 we’re asking for the entirety of our mission, so we can intimately be involved with 40 people, or $22,500 a person.
So here it is, the bat meets the ball, the snot touches the Kleenex the fingers lay atop the keyboard (and other hopefully creative ways to avoid the cliché “the rubber meets the road”)…Will you help us? Will you give us $25, $50, or even $75 a month to us so we can proclaim Jesus, make disciples and otherwise be the change agents in the lives of 40 people? Sure, I could go into how disciples make disciples and how really your monthly pledge will go on to change the lives of countless people, but those generations of disciples are someone else’s blog post to write. We’re focused on 40. That’s it, just 40. Will you help?