"The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become." -- Henry Martyn, missionary to India as well as what is modern-day Iran
Know anyone who views world missions support involvement as being only for those who happen to be really passionate about it? I know people who think that way.
"It's their thing," they dismissively say.
If Henry Martyn were still around, he would object. "It is not just their thing," he would protest, "It is Christ's thing and it must therefore be a 'thing' of every Christ follower."
Martyn, early 19th century missionary to India ad Persia, saw world evangelism as a central passion of God's heart. That means, said Martyn, that the more Christ-like we become, the more we will share Christ's passion for world evangelism. By the "spirit of Christ," Martyn does not mean the Holy Spirit. Rather he means a defining element of Christ's character in the same sense that we talk about "the spirit of a nation."+
Paul's words in Philippians 2:15 call us to "think the way Christ Jesus thought" (Easy to Read Version). Although that exhortation occurs in a passage about Christ's humility, it appertains to other contexts. Being Christ-like to the point of thinking like Christ includes embracing His desire that all the world hear the Good News.
Pastors sometimes lament that those in their congregation supporting world missions are often the senior citizens. Where that is true -- and sometimes it is -- it may be because those older people who support world evangelism have walked with Christ over a number of years. With the passage of time, as they have grown closer to Him, they have become "intensely missionary." Because Jesus Christ is passionate about world evangelism, it should be not surprise us when older, mature believers become passionate about it too.
So, global passion in those older "saints" validates Henry Martyn's words: "The nearer we get to [Christ], the more intensely missionary we become." On the other hand, Martyn's statement does not limit missions passion those who have been believers for decades. He is simply stating something that is clearly a Biblical message: If we get our hearts in tune with Christ's heart, we will become passionate about proclaiming in all the world the Good News that God has come in Christ Jesus to redeem fallen human beings.
-- Howard Culbertson
More mini-essays in the "Slogans that awakened the Church" series published in Engage, an online missions magazine.
World missions history resources: Black Americans involvement in world missions World missions history crossword puzzle Historic world missions slogans Doing missions well: Missionaries exemplifying important characteristics Brief overview of world missions history Monastic missionary strategy Nazarene Missions International history PowerPoint: Epochs of world mission history World missions outreach from 1600 to the present Missions history syllabus Year-by-year timeline of world missions outreach Today in world missions history Evangelizing the Vikings William Borden's story