The Reflex of the Resurrection: MissionChip Bugnar
Much of the recruitment for missions in general and missionaries specifically centers on heightening people’s expectations about how God desires to spread his grace abroad and how we have been graced to play a role in that overall mission. Amen. This is all gloriously true. We rally the troops by ramping up the possibilities of their life making an eternal impact. And yes, that is true.
But I told a group of college students recently that as I was trying to expand their ambitions to engage in this grand plan, I also needed to temper their expectations about how this plays out. Crossing cultures, learning a language, acquiring skills to maintain viable access, and navigating the fishbowl of life as a foreigner - it’s no cakewalk. This is not to mention the heartache of ministry to non-believers or even new believers. It seems the enemy lurks ever-present. New, yet immature, faith feels more like a roller-coaster ride with all its ups and downs and starts and stops. Difficulties abound. This work is hard. Real hard.
Then there are the inescapable limits of that person we meet daily in the mirror. The constant feelings of not measuring up, the lingering doubt about our adequacy for this task, the nagging guilt that we aren’t doing enough with so much need around us. The life a missionary chooses - or better - the death he or she chooses, is e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g. In this honesty, I could feel a palpable fear rising among the students: is that for me - a life where losing is the theme? Is this constant loss all there is to this work?
It’s an interesting dilemma: recruit for missions and gloss over the difficulties inherent to the task or be so raw about the trials that no one in their right mind would desire to go? Which will it be? Gloss over the fine print or read it all? I shared this quote with those college students:
“There is something deep in the
human heart that knows that the last enemy to be conquered is death. Death is the last
enemy not just because it takes life but because the fear of death prevents real life. The
fear of loss has robbed our world of more life and more flourishing than any actual loss
we could ever suffer.” (Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak)
That one may deserve a second run.
Andy pinpoints the problem that tempers our world-engaging, the risk-embracing path to missions: fear of loss. This is where expanded ambitions shrivel and die a thousand slow deaths. And we’re here, to be honest: those fears will give way to actual loss on this path. We put the fine print front and center so you can weigh the costs that will accumulate along the way. This work is hard.
But a Christian is uniquely fit to consider the costs involved in and jump in with both feet. Consider the logic of Romans 4:25 and how it overcomes any fear of loss: Jesus “was delivered over for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” Think of it: Every ounce of wrath we deserve was laid on him so that every obstacle on our way to glory would be overcome by him. He lives. Resurrected: never-to-die-again. Our right standing with God could not be more secure than in his resurrected life. God is for us, and irrevocably so. No earthly hardship can threaten His life, therefore, no earthly hardship can threaten our future. It is as safe and secure in heaven now as it will be when we arrive there.
This means the resurrection has stripped that fear of loss of its dictating force over us. Risk has been recalibrated in light of the resurrection. If He lives, never to die again, can loss be our destiny? Gone is the lure of bubble-wrapping our lives and avoiding risk to secure some measure of gain in this life. An empty tomb means the fear of loss is an empty threat.
It is ours to die so they might live. So says Paul: “death works in us.” But o brothers and sisters. Death is not the final word as he continues: “but life in you.” Challenge death’s gloomy outlook with the brightness of what’s around the corner: “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison…Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor. 4:17, 5:4). Loss, ultimate loss, is not in our future.
Yes, if the resurrection is not true then the missionary life is pitiable. But, since it is true - that life becomes the highest privilege known to man.
So I ask: could there be any more significant endeavor to spend and be spent for?
The reflex of resurrection is mission - losing so others might gain, dying so others might live.
I ask you: in light of the resurrection, just what is life in its right mind?