Sermon in a nutshell: “Do you want to be missionaries?” (Acts 13:1-5)
Today is Palm Sunday. Here is the paradox of Palm Sunday. People shouted Hosanna to the Lord, Jesus. After five days, the same people would shout, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” What happened? When we do not focus on God’s work but on our own self-centered desires, that will happen all the time. The first Christians overcame this self-centeredness by sending missionaries and focusing on God’s work and God’s dream! We need to find out how to follow them in our own situations.
- Missionaries are from the local churches.
The first missionaries, Paul and Barnabas were local church prophets and teachers. The first church had ministries of prophecy and teaching. Prophets were the ones who discerned God’s will and delivered God’s message to the people and teachers were the ones who taught the Word of God. So, both were closely related ministries. From this group of people, God called Paul and Barnabas.
When we send missionaries, we will select them from “among our leaders.” It is unlikely that someone whom nobody knows well in a local church can be a missionary. A missionary is one who is well known and recognized in the local church as a person of love and wisdom.
- Missionaries are sent by the Holy Spirit and with the Holy Spirit.
In the Bible it says that after the church members worshipped and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Mission was and still is the work of the Holy Spirit.
How do we know that someone is called by the Holy Spirit? We know that by their fruits in life: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”(Galatians 5:22) Those are the characteristics of the person with the Holy Spirit. When we see those qualities in a person, we can tell that the Holy Spirit is with her/him.
- Missionaries are sent by twos and to the place where they have an affinity.
Paul and Barnabas were great leaders. However, God did not send them alone. When Jesus sent disciples for proclaiming the Kingdom of God, he also sent them in twos: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.” (Luke 10:1) Even great leaders need partners. If you are working alone, look for a partner. Until you find team members who can work with you, you are not ready.
Paul and Barnabas also went to Cyprus first, the hometown of Barnabas. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. Missionaries start their work where they have an affinity. That means they should have some common factors with the people that they want to serve. You can be a missionary for them!
- How strongly do you feel that God is calling you to be a missionary? (or any type of mission work)
- Who are the people that you can work with?