DAY 38 Becoming a World- Class Christian Jesus said to his followers, "Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone." Mark 16:15 (NCV) Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. Psalm 67:2 (LB) The Great Commission is your commission. You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian. Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They are saved, but selfcentered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you would never find them at a missions conference because they aren't interested. Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. It's a "me-first" faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes. In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for a mission. They are eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God. World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they're making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways. Which type of Christian do you want to be? God invites you to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse, and most significant cause in history-his kingdom. History is his story. He's building his family for eternity. Nothing matters more, and nothing will last as long. From the book of Revelation we know that God's global mission will be accomplished. Someday the Great Commission will be the Great Completion. In heaven an enormous crowd of people from "every race, tribe, nation, and language" will one day stand before Jesus Christ to worship him. Getting involved as a world-class Christian will allow you to experience a little of what heaven will be like in advance. When Jesus told his followers to `Bo everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone," that small band of poor, Middle Eastern disciples were overwhelmed. Were they supposed to walk or ride slow animals? That's all they had for transportation, and there were no ocean-crossing ships, so there were real physical barriers to going to the whole world. Today we have airplanes, ships, trains, buses, and automobiles. It's a small world after all, and it's shrinking daily. You can fly across the ocean in a matter of hours and be home the next day if you need to be. The opportunities for normal, everyday Christians to become involved in shortterm international missions are now literally limitless. Every corner of the world is available to you-just ask the travel industry. We have no excuse not to spread the Good News. Now, with the Internet, the world has gotten even smaller. In addition to phones and faxes, any believer with Internet access can personally communicate with people in virtually every country on earth. The whole world is at your fingertips! Even many remote villages get email, so you can now carry on "e-vangelistic" conversations with people on the other side of the world, without even leaving your home! It has never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world. The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation. The only barrier is the way we think. To be a world-class Christian you must make some mental shifts. Your perspective and attitudes must change. HOW TO THINK LIKE A WORLD-CLASS CHRISTIAN Shift from self-centered thinking to other-centered thinking. The Bible says, "My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people." This is the first step to becoming a orldclass Christian. Children only think of themselves; grownups think of others. God commands, "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too." Of course, this is a difficult mental shift because we're naturally self-absorbed and almost all advertising encourages us to think of ourselves. The only way we can make this paradigm switch is by a moment-by-moment dependence on God. Fortunately he doesn't leave us to struggle on our own. "God has given us his Spirit. That's why we don't think the same way that the people of this world think." Begin asking the Holy Spirit to help you to think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever you talk to them. With practice you can develop the habit of praying silent "breath prayers" for those you encounter. Say, "Father, help me to understand what is keeping this person from knowing you." Your goal is to figure out where others are in their spiritual journey and then do whatever will bring them a step closer to knowing Christ. You can learn how to do this by adopting the mindset of Paul, who said, "I don't think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved.' Shift from local thinking to global thinking. God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world. "God so loved the world...."' From the beginning he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, "From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him." Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multinational. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashions, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you are wearing and much of what you ate today were produced in another country. We are more connected than we realize. These are exciting days to be alive. There are more Christians on earth right now than ever before. Paul was right: "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours." The first way to start thinking globally is to begin praying for specific countries. World-class Christians pray for the world. Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. The Bible says, "If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours.' Prayer is the most important tool for your mission in the world. People may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like an intercontinental missile, you can aim a prayer at a person's heart whether you are ten feet or 10,000 miles away. What should you pray for? The Bible tells us to pray for opportunities to witness," for courage to speak up, for those who will believe, for the rapid spread of the message, and for more workers. Prayer makes you a partner with others around the world. You should also pray for missionaries and everyone else involved in the global harvest. Paul told his prayer partners, "You are also joining to help us when you pray for us.” If you would like suggestions for praying intelligently for the world and Christian workers, see appendix 2. Another way to develop global thinking is to read and watch the news with "Great Commission eyes.' Wherever there is change or conflict, you can be sure that God will use it to bring people to him. People are most receptive to God when they are under tension or in transition. Because the rate of change is increasing in our world, more people are open to hearing the Good News now than ever before. The best way to switch to global thinking is to just get up and go on a short-term mission project to another country! There's simply no substitute for hands-on, real life experience in another culture. Quit studying and discussing your mission and just do it! I dare you to dive into the deep end. In Acts 1:8 Jesus gave us a pattern for involvement: "You will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." His followers were to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria), and to other nations (everywhere in the world). Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential. While not everyone has the missionary gift, every Christian is called to be on a mission to all four groups in some way. Are you an Acts 1:8 Christian? Set a goal to participate in a mission project to each of these four targets. I urge you to save and do whatever it takes to participate in a short-term mission trip overseas as soon as possible. Nearly every mission agency can help you do this. It will enlarge your heart, expand your vision, stretch your faith, deepen your compassion, and fill you with a kind of joy you have never experienced. It could be the turning point in your life. Shift from "here and now" thinking to eternal thinking. To make the most of your time on earth, you must maintain an eternal perspective. This will keep you from majoring on minor issues and help you distinguish between what's urgent and what's ultimate. Paul said, "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. " So much of what we waste our energy on will not matter even a year from now, much less for eternity. Don't trade your life for temporary things. Jesus said, "Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work 1 plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God." Paul warned, "Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out." What are you allowing to stand in the way of your mission? What's keeping you from being a world-class Christian? Whatever it is, let it go. "Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back." Jesus told us to "store up your treasures in heaven." How can we do this? In one of his most misunderstood statements Jesus said, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Jesus did not mean for you to "buy" friends with money. What he meant was that you should use the money God gives you to bring people to Christ. They will then be friends for eternity who will welcome you when you get to heaven! It's the best financial investment you'll ever make. You've probably heard the expression "You can't take it with you"-but the Bible says you can send it on ahead by investing in people who are going there! The Bible says, `By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven-it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well." Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission. If you are willing, there is always a way to do it, and there are agencies that will help you. Here are some common excuses: * "I only speak English." This is actually an advantage in many countries where millions of people want to learn English and are eager to practice it. * "I don't have anything to offer' Yes, you do. Every ability and experience in your shape can be used somewhere. * "I'm too old (or too young).' Most mission agencies have age-appropriate short term projects. Whether it was Sarah claiming she was too old to be used by God or Jeremiah claiming he was too young, God rejected their excuses. "Don't say that,' the LORD replied, for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you.'" Maybe you have believed that you needed a special "call" from God, and you've been waiting for some supernatural feeling or experience. But God has already stated his call repeatedly. We are all called to fulfill God's five purposes for our lives: to worship, to fellowship, to grow like Christ, to serve, and to be on mission with God in the world. God doesn't want to use just some of his people; he wants to use all of his people. We are all called to be on-mission for God. He wants his whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. Many Christians have missed God's plan for their lives because they have never even asked God if he wanted them to serve as a missionary somewhere. Whether out of fear or ignorance, they have automatically closed their minds to the possibility of serving as a resident missionary in a cross-cultural location. If you are tempted to say no, you ought to check out all the different ways and possibilities that are now available (this will surprise you), and you ought to seriously pray and ask God what he wants from you in the years ahead. Untold thousands of resident missionaries are desperately needed at this critical point in history, when so many doors are opening wide like never before. If you want to be like Jesus, you must have a heart for the whole world. You can't be satisfied with just your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over 6 billion people on earth, and Jesus wants all his lost children found. Jesus said, "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live!" The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance. DAY THIRTY-EIGHT THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE Point to Ponder: The Great Commission is my commission. Verse to Remember: "Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind." Psalm 67:2 (LB) Question to Consider: What steps can I take to prepare to go on a short-term missions experience in the next year?