What is the point of missions? To help others as Christ commanded, yes. To bring others to Christ by showing his love to others, yes. But while we as teenagers go to school and part-time jobs knowing that we don’t have the power to end world poverty all at once, we forget something very important: our mission field.
Helping the impoverished living overseas is very important, and as teenagers we have many opportunities to do so — Operation Christmas Child, as an example. Countless foundations to contribute to, such as Compassion and Gospel for Asia. Youth missions trips all over the world. It’s important to be Christ’s light to the world and to go to “all nations” sharing God’s love for us.
But too often, we define “missions” solely as assisting the impoverished in second- and third-world countries, or even those on the streets of Toronto. And that is missions. But while offering financial assistance is important, it’s not as important as sharing the gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone will have the opportunity to travel overseas contributing to building or financial projects. But too often we stop there. We know we aren’t able to go abroad, so we give as much as we can from home, helping these foundations to further their causes.
And that’s great. We should all give to others selflessly. Christ, in fact, commands us to do so. But I’m talking about our mission field. The mission field that seems especially reserved for us as teenagers and that we encounter every day: school. Part-time jobs. Sports and other extra-curricular activities. There are so many different opportunities for us to witness to others.
I’m sure you’ve been told that before: “Witness to others!” But that’s an intimidating word to hear. Most of us mildly freak out when our youth pastor tells us to “witness” to all of our friends (or non-friends). Some of us just brush it off as a non-option. Or we do both:
Witness?! I’m not going to whip out a bible at lunch tomorrow and start telling my friends they’re going to hell unless they repent of sins they don’t even know that they have! No…I would definitely be bullied…and God wouldn’t want that, so…they’ll just see how nice I am, wonder why I’m so nice, and ask to come to youth group! That’s one problem solved.
It seems a little weird, but a lot of the time, that’s how we think whether we realized it or not. Witnessing is a scary thing, especially in a world that is so secularism-oriented. And with a lot of people not even remotely interested in a saving grace, it is incredibly difficult to witness to others.
As someone once said, “Preach the gospel always — and if necessary, use words.” This is a good reminder that “witnessing” doesn’t mean preaching to your friends at every turn. Actions really do speak louder than words. You may be the only Bible your friends ever see.
So how, exactly, do we go about this “silent witnessing”? I mean, be good, yes — but specifically, what should we do? Romans 12:9 – 21 gives a detailed list of “Marks of the True Christian”:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is a wonderful passage to turn to whenever we don’t know how to react to a situation. I have turned to it many times because it’s kind of like a Christian basic behavior 101.
My point is that most people see how you act or react to something first. And a lot of the time, people say one thing then do another. It seems that a person’s word isn’t of much worth any more; most people will be impressed by your actions way before they’ll be impressed by your words.
I want to challenge you to focus on being Christ to everyone you meet — not talking about Christ. If the opportunity arises for you to share your faith, by all means do so! But let your focus be on being a Christian, not persuading others to become a Christian. Trust me; people do notice.