Is Every Christian Supposed To Be A Missionary
The affliction with which Lutheranism has been afflicted for the last 50 years is the error that every Christian is supposed to be a missionary. That it is the duty of every believer in Christ to attempt to open religious dialogue with people whenever and wherever possible. This is nicely encapsulated in the sign that dons the exit gate of many church parking lots: You are now entering the mission field!
The English language has a word for that. Meretricious. A meretricious assertion is one that is apparently attractive, but in reality has little or no value. That said, let us attempt to sort these things out by this brief post.
The duty of every Christian is to live the baptismal life. End of story.
But what is that?
First, to live the baptismal life, is to worship the Father in Holy Communion with Christ. That is foundational, and the life, health and salvation of the church and the world.
Next to love our neighbor as we love ourselves -- the specifics of which are taught in Holy Scripture, our catechisms, in a blessed plethora of Christian writings, and in godly preaching and teaching.
It means suffering patiently, praying steadfastly, and taking the divine perspective of all that occurs in this life. It means approaching our end with aplomb, great faith, and with the sure and certain hope of: the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
As for missions, that is the work of the church as a whole, and takes place whenever God provides the opportunity, the qualified people, and the needed resources. All three. You cannot rush missions. You cannot force missions; though we have tried for the last 50 years. A time frame that, by the way, coincides with the demise of the church in America. One wonders if it is purely "a passion for the lost," that has driven this bus for the last half century, or the fear of institutional death.
Does the individual Christian have a duty here? Yes. It is stated nicely in these words of Jesus, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16). And again the words of the Peter, "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2:12).
The duty is this. Live your life as a Christian and your light will draw people to God, with the result that on the Last Day they will glorify God in Christ. (The surprises that await us on that day will make our heads swim; and our countenances shine like the stars forever. Daniel 12:3)
Aside from the parents' duty to raise their children in the faith, and to answer religious questions people might have of you to the best of your ability, your duty is let your light, your love and your patience in suffering shine forth to all.
I recognize that this contradicts the orthodoxy of the last 50 years, but please give it your consideration, and leave your comments.
What I write above applies to the laity, however pastors are a different story. They are devoted, trained, and ordained to this very work and strangers often come to them because they sense (correclty) that God is with this man. What was said of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation could be paraphrased in regards to the pastor. Hail, Pastor, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among men, and blessed is the fruit of thy “womb,” Jesus.
By his calling, devotion to the things of God, and his ordination the pastor is “full of grace.” He is Christopher: “bearer of Christ.” He is not the functionary iconoclastic dogma assumes, but he is a “means of grace” (small “m”). He is the man whose voice intones the Divine Word to God’s people, pronounces absolution, consecrates the bread and cup, whose hand feeds the Lord’s flesh and blood to the Bride, and whose beautiful feet carry Good News near and far.
He is not morally superior to any person, indeed he is the chief of sinners. But that’s the Law, not the Gospel. The Gospel is that the Lord is with him and that the fruit of his work is salvation for all people; because he is God’s minister, servant, priest and prophet given among men so that by his labors they might be saved. (Acts 4:12).
That said, the pastor is not defined by outreach. He is not primarily a missionary. First he is pastor to the baptized. And pastor is, first, the man appointed by Christ to lead his people in worship. When you see the pastor in the chancel on Sunday morning you can most properly say: the pastor is being the pastor. This golden hour is what he works towards, and from, all week long. Whatever else he does leads to the Altar, and proceeds from the Altar. But the Altar is the apogee of Christian ministry and Christian existence. For it is The Place where sinful man enters into Communion with the Holy. With Christ. And by him (Christ) particpates in the mutual love that exists between the Father the Son and the Spirit. Here the sinner, redeemed, restored and forgiven, lives the life that God himself lives; and there is nothing better than that.