The Church’s Beating Heart: JBU is a Mission Field, Too
This past week was World Awareness Week, and JBU celebrated the different nations that God has created and the diversity displayed on our campus. The message of World Awareness Week is clear: God loves the nations, and believers are called to love them too. Tuesday’s chapel was about missions and how all believers are called to missions, whether that be physically going to another country or being heavily involved in supporting mission work. I firmly believe that all believers have the calling to further Christ’s Kingdom and spread the Gospel. However, the emphasis on missions can cause believers who do not think they personally are called to missions to feel guilty. They can become disconcerted with where God has called them and unsure if they are actually able to serve Christ in that capacity. While mission work is something I personally am passionate about, I also hold the belief that Christ calls some believers to stay behind and fulfill his mission here, ministering to believers and unbelievers by being Christ-like in their everyday life, specifically right now at John Brown University. JBU is a mission field too.
As Corinthians says, we are the body of Christ. Some are the hands. Some are the feet.
Some are the eyes. Some, though, are called to be the heart. I do not mean the heart as in someone who is compassionate and comforting; I mean it in the literal sense. Just as the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, some are meant to do just that. I am not a biology major—and I don’t usually enjoy speaking about internal organs—but I think this is necessary to remember when we think about the body of Christ. A body cannot function well without a missing arm or a missing leg. A body cannot function at all without a heart or a liver. So just like the actual body, some believers are called to be the internal parts of the body which help the body function as God designed. God calls some believers to go elsewhere and minister to the nations, but it is vital to the body of Christ that those who God calls to work inside the body do as He has called them.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV). It is necessary for believers to minister to each other because they are able to hold each other accountable to the path which God has called them to walk. This proverb speaks to human need. Humans need community. Because believers are called to be apart from the world, they cannot find real community in the world. What I mean by this is not that they cannot encounter dear friends who are unbelievers, but that because believers have a radically different purpose in life, unbelievers’ community will eventually fail the believer because the unbeliever does not understand the believer’s purpose. The unbeliever cannot push the believer farther in his or her walk because the unbeliever does not understand the believer’s goal. Therefore, it is important that believers also focus on ministering and providing community to one another.
Lastly, believers need to hear the Gospel. Just because a person has heard and accepted the truth does not mean that he or she has everything figured out in life—all believers can attest to that. If believers do not continually fill their minds and hearts with truth and meditate on it as the Bible says, they will begin to stray as the Israelites did when they closed down the temple and stopped reading the Word of God. Believers will bow before idols just the same if they do not continually fill themselves with the truth of God’s Word and the truth of the Gospel. I trusted in Christ as a child, but it was a trust without total understanding of my sin and the Lord’s mercy. Yet as I grow and gain a deeper understanding of my sin, I realize more and more my desperate need for God’s grace. JBU is a mission field too, because believers also need the Gospel in order to grow in their faith.
Yes, mission work to the nations of the world is incredibly important. Believers ought to share Christ’s love with every person they encounter. However, those whom God does not call overseas should not feel guilty and useless. They are vital to what God is doing. Their mission may look different and may seem more concealed, but it does not mean that God is not using them. Those JBU students who believe they are called to devote their life to mission work ought to feel honored that God is choosing to use them this way. They have many blessings to look forward to in the work God has set out for them. However, those JBU students who do not believe they are called to life-long mission work ought to be honored as well: God has chosen them to pour themselves into the body of Christ. I exhort these JBU students to be passionate about where God has called them. I encourage them to recognize that though they are not called to be the “ship in the harbor, about to take off,” they are the “workers in the harbor who send ships out.” JBU students who are called to be the heart of the body of Christ are called to serve the Church. They are called to cultivate relationships of believers and unbelievers alike through hospitality, giving generously to all, and encouraging other believers. JBU is a mission field too, and those called to stay equally have a mission: to be the heart of the body of Christ.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.