Missionaries: All they have is Christ!

On more than one occasion an unbeliever has responded to our life story by saying: “So, you’ve adopted four kids and you’re moving to Africa…you’re definitely going to Heaven.”  Typically, people either love us or despise us for who we are and what we are pursuing.  We are not surprised when we are hated, but what turns our stomachs is when people mistakenly assume that we are good enough, on our own, to be approved by God.  The line of reasoning seems to be, “Well if you’re willing to sacrifice that much, God will have to let you into Heaven.” 

Generally, when people say this they mean it as a compliment, which is nice.  And we struggle for a way to communicate our gratitude for the compliment without our brains exploding with the affront to the Gospel that these statements communicate.  It is difficult to say “Thank You” when this is absolutely all wrong and we want to be as clear as possible that it is JESUS and Jesus ALONE that makes us right before God. 

A missionary named Paul, who was a man blameless according to the law, said the following when reflecting on his “good works”:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. – Philippians 3:7-9  

Paul forfeited all of his hope in himself and in his laundry list of good works and counted them as garbage.  Why? So that he could receive real righteousness: Righteousness from outside of him—the very righteousness of Jesus.  And this righteousness only comes when we renounce hope in ourselves. 

So What Now?

·       We do not hope in our good works.  In fact, even the good things that we do are never from 100% pure hearts.
·       We declare that anything good in us is a work of God and does not originate in Dave and Stacey.
·        We are confident that going into missions or not going into missions does not increase or decrease our righteousness before the Lord.
·        We have rest knowing that as we struggle and fall in parenting, we still have complete peace with God because of Jesus.
·       We know that all of our future mistakes and sins on the mission field will not jeopardize our place in Heaven with God.
·       We rejoice knowing that even if we run back home after a year on the field because it’s too hard…God will accept us still because of Christ.
·       When we sin against our children we know God still delights in us as he delights in his own Son.

The Bottom Line

Missionaries (or aspiring missionaries for that matter) need a Savior.  Missionaries sin on the mission field and need a High Priest to intercede for them on their behalves.  People that adopt kids regularly sin against the kids that they adopt.  This is the bond between Christians—in whatever capacity we serve the Lord, we all do it imperfectly and all hope in Jesus and not in ourselves.  Whatever our vocation or ministry, Jesus is our righteousness.

“Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You”
-All I Have is Christ, Sovereign Grace Praise

Author: David M. Hare

Dave is a husband, father of four Africans, and is currently helping the Kwakum people do Oral Bible Storying and Bible translation in Cameroon, Africa.