If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, especially one to a third world country, you’ll understand exactly what I mean when I say there’s a wave of emotions that you experience while on the trip. It’s hard to put into words, but every aspect of the trip is encouraging. Even if things go wrong, as they often will, no one seems to worry because everyone understands that God is in control of the trip. We are traveling for His glory and trying to reach people with His gospel and therefore whatever happens, happens. The team spends time praying together and studying the Bible; we encourage each other, we watch out for each other, and in the end most of us come back forever changed. We return with a sense of gratitude mixed with fear, happiness, thankfulness and honor to be serving a holy God on His mission.
Unfortunately the spiritual high, at least for me, seems to be short lived. I get back home, get into my routine, and before long I’m stuck in the grind of everyday life. That bothers me…a lot. Yeah, I completely understand that life is not all about the highs and there will always be times in your life when you’re on a high and times in your life when you’re low. I also understand that even people who are working in full time ministry, like missionaries, experience the same range of emotions.
But I think the reason it bothers me so much is that when I read the Bible, especially the books about the early church, I see a group of people experiencing exactly what I described in the first paragraph. Now I can try and argue with myself all I want that times were different back then and it was easier to live that way, but we both know that’s not true. My life doesn’t look anything like theirs and to make matters worse I rarely experience the radical things they speak of in the New Testament.
But should I really be surprised? Think about it…the early church was completely focused on God's will. Their priority in life was growing the kingdom and reaching other people. So should I be surprised that when I would rather live my life the way I choose instead of being completely focused on God's will that I constantly long for those mission trip experiences.
At the end of the day it’s pretty simple. The reason I don’t experience life and faith and power like the early church did is because I often separate my life into the secular and the sacred. Work is over here, and Jesus is over there. I earn money over here and work as hard as I can on the secular side and then when I’m helping others and trying to reach out to people on the sacred side that’s when Jesus can be involved in everything. I know it sounds weird but most of us live our lives in that exact way. Jesus over there on Sundays and my life over here every other day of the week.
I begin noticing this in my own life a few years ago and have truly made strong strides to make a change. I pray that one day I will fully understand that I am on a 24-7-365 mission trip that does not allow for a secular/sacred divide. Just because I’m in a different country doesn’t mean my focus should shift. My focus should ultimately be the same no matter where I am. Every person I meet and every circumstance I go through is ordained by God and my calling as a Christian is to reach out to the people around me that God has placed in my life.
I really want everyone reading this to understand that the Christian life is not this lame, boring existence filled with rules and legalism. I know it often appears that way and unfortunately that's because even people in the church sometimes just don't get it. But please know this, the Christian life when lived as God has designed it, is an adventure, orchestrated by a wonderful loving God whose desire is for you to be on mission with him.