July 9, 2019 - Missiology - A Reflection on Matthew 9:32-38
Today’s reflection is titled ‘Missiology’. I know it’s a heavy sounding word, but it simply is ‘the study of Christian missions and their methods and purposes’. There have been many books written on the subject, but I would just like us to reflect upon five principles that emerge from this particular passage that we just read. After all, who better to learn from than the master? I may take a couple more paragraphs than I usually do, but this subject justifies them.
First principle: Jesus went about all the cities and villages. Jesus didn’t stick around in one place, waiting for people to come to him, although he did let that happen. He went out and about, meeting people where they were at. The Church followed in his footsteps for centuries, sending priests out by the thousands to some of the remotest parts of the world with the good news. Now, however, with very few people graduating from its seminaries, it finds it difficult to support its parishes, much less send them out as missionaries.
But God is now raising people from the laity. I don’t like plugging my own ministry through these reflections, especially not twice in a row, but the HSI Schools of Discipleship are serving to train people in the faith by the thousands the world over. We teach people the faith with three express purposes: to learn it, to live it, and to share it. There are 111 Schools in 14 countries today and there is a new School opening every other week. And, God willing, the hundreds of youngsters in our Schools will help fill our seminaries again.
Second principle: Jesus taught in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. Jesus did not establish new learning centers. He went to existing centers, where he taught people the good news, using their own set of beliefs to bring them to the truth. There are so many times he began his teachings by saying, “You have heard it said,” indicating he knew their beliefs, before shifting the paradigm to the REAL truth. We see Paul following this principle with the people of Athens. Read Acts 17:22-34.
Third principle: Jesus cured every disease and sickness. Last week (see July 4) we reflected upon the relationship between sin and sickness. Sin is the primary cause of sickness. Consequently, the antidote to sickness is the cessation of sin. This requires true repentance, which is met by forgiveness from God. Forgiveness and healing go hand in hand, which is why no preaching without a call to repentance is effective.
Fourth principle: He had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Very often Jesus forsook his own needs for privacy and solitude to be with the people because his heart went out to them. Any missionary who does what he does for any reason other than compassion is in the wrong business. We preach the good news because we care about people. We care about the pain their are in, their loneliness, their suffering, their emptiness, AND their eternal salvation. That should be the primary driving factor.
Fifth principle: Jesus empowered others. On one occasion his disciples encountered others who were casting demons in Jesus’ name and they were angry! In turn, Jesus was angry about his disciples exclusivism. It had no place in his kingdom. We have no place for exclusivism in our mission work. The harvest is plentiful — the world’s population is currently 7.7 billion — and most of them don’t know Christ. We need harvesters in the hundreds of thousands if we are to make a difference to the world.
So, let us pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers. And let us also pray that they work together in love and harmony.