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Consider Yourself Authorized

So often, we have the mentality that the work of spreading the gospel is only for an elite group of Christians. We think it’s something that’s best left for the professionals—like pastors and other key leaders in the church.

I think of those commercials for new cars where you see the car doing all of these fancy, high speed maneuvers that show off how well the car’s capable of performing. It can do this impressive thing on this terrain and that impressive thing on that terrain. And at the bottom of the screen, what does the fine print typically say? It says something like, “This is a professional driver. Don’t try this yourself.”

While that may be good advice for some of those high speed maneuvers, that’s a terrible way to approach our gospel mission. Just look at Acts 8.

Acts 8:1 records how the Jewish religious leaders begin persecuting the early Christians in Jerusalem. It states, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” So because of this persecution, the Christians of Jerusalem were scattered to the surrounding regions—except for the apostles, the text says.

Then if we look down at verse 4, here’s what we read: “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” So who “went about preaching the word”? Was it the leaders? No, verse 1 told us that the leaders were actually the only ones who weren’t scattered. It was everybody else in the church, the so-called “ordinary” Christians, who “went about preaching the word.” As I heard one pastor say, it was the Joes, not the pros, who spread the gospel here in Acts 8.

And that’s really how God has designed the church to function. He didn’t design it to be like football game where you have a handful of players actually playing in the game and then thousands upon thousands of others watching from the stands.

When the Steelers play here in Pittsburgh, the vast majority of people at Heinz field aren’t really doing much of anything beyond drinking and eating and having a good time. Only a very small minority of the people present are actually playing football. The rest are just spectators. They’re just watching the action rather than taking part in the action.

And the sad reality is that if you leave Heinz field and go around to various churches, it doesn’t take long to observe that the churches aren’t all that different. Many of them are full of spectators also. But that’s not the way God designed it.

God’s design is for every Christian to do what these early Christians here in Acts 8 were doing and function as missionaries wherever he places them. That means if you’re a Christian and you’re living in the Pittsburgh area, God has called you to be a missionary to the Pittsburgh area.

Consider yourself licensed. Consider yourself authorized. God himself has licensed you, authorized you, and even commanded you and empowered you to live as a missionary right here.