These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Wherever you are, you are a missionary. Today, as a believer, you have been sent by God -- maybe to a culture unreached by the Gospel, or maybe to a desk job five minutes up the road. Either way, don't take it lightly.
When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach His word, He gave them specific marching orders -- He didn't just give suggestions or offer advice; He "commanded" them.
That word, "commanded," is an interesting word that is transliterated from the original Greek as "paragello." And this simple word unlocks a revealing look at our role as missionaries in our world.
First, "paragello" was used in Jesus' time as a military command or charge. In the same way that a general sends his commanders out on a campaign, so Jesus sends his disciples into battle. And battles are never pretty.
We must always remember that a spiritual battle exists around us, and it is a battle over souls -- a battle not against flesh and blood, but against "spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). When we lose sight of this battle, it's easy to become petty, bitter, self-focused, and ultimately ineffective. The enemy would love nothing better.
Second, "paragello" was used as "a summoning of friends to one's help." You see, as missionaries, we are not just taking blind orders from a war general; we have the opportunity to help a friend -- the Friend above all friends. "No longer do I call you servants," Jesus says, "for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).
Next, "paragello" was used to describe a teacher giving rules and precepts to his students. It can be easy for us, especially after years of walking with the Lord, to think we know "enough." But we are to be students of Jesus, always curious, always asking questions, always studying His teachings, so that we are ready "in season and out of season" to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2).
Finally, "paragello" was used for imperial command -- a king, for example, sending his ambassadors into the world. And isn't it humbling that God would choose us as His ambassadors? Isn't it incredible that the Sovereign Lord who spoke creation into existence chooses us to speak an encouraging word to a friend, or demonstrate His forgiveness to an enemy?
It's not always easy, but being missionaries of the Most High God is one of the greatest privileges afforded to us.
We are soldiers in a spiritual battle, friends of the Commander, students of His teachings, and ambassadors of His love. Today, realize that you are a missionary, and let Jesus do a wonderful work of His love in and through you.
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