John Wesley would often speak of the necessary combination of works of piety (things like prayer, worship, and the study of scripture) with works of mercy (things like outreach, service, and mission) in the shaping of Christian spiritual development. That inward spiritual journey is incomplete without an external “living out” of the faith. As I have recently been spending a lot of time examining the disciplines, I felt it would be fitting to spend some time exploring the other side of the proverbial coin. To do this with any justice, I needed someone with fresh eyes in the mission field. Enter Dana Bruxvoort.
Dana is a writer, and in addition to her own blog (aptly named A Breath of Fresh Air), Dana has written for such online publications as Ready, Set, Jet, RevolutionizeHer, Detour, and Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Even more importantly, Dana is a missionary. She has only just recently returned to the states after an extended stay in Thailand working as a missionary. I knew that, if anyone could speak to the power of missions to transform, it would be Dana. So it is that I am pleased to present today’s Blog Spotlight: Dana Bruxvoort from A Breath of Fresh Air.
In my young(er), more naïve years, missions used to be a somewhat intimidating word – you know, reserved for those amazingly “spiritual” people who go out and live in the jungle and translate Bibles into unwritten languages and all. But as I began to delve more deeply into what it meant to live a life of faith, as I led discipleship ministries and devoured book after book on the topic, I began to see that my pursuit of discipleship wouldn’t be complete unless I also reworked my idea of missions.
So I decided to slowly, intentionally read through the gospel of Matthew, asking the Lord to give me fresh eyes and open my mind to what He might actually be calling me to instead of simply what I thought I wanted to hear. (Anyone else guilty of that?) And as I plodded through the gospel, here’s what I realized:
We’re all called to missions…
… it’s more for our own sake than anyone else’s.
Jesus was other-oriented – always looking for ways to serve and encourage, looking for opportunities to share the gospel.
Why are we all called to missions? Because if we claim to be followers of Jesus, striving to live as he did, then we would realize that we are to live out the same mission that he lived out with every word he said and breath he breathed. Rather than focusing inward like our culture so often does, Jesus was other-oriented – always looking for ways to serve and encourage, looking for opportunities to share the gospel. And if we’re trying to live our lives by the standards Jesus gives (as most of us say we are), then we should be doing the same.
And, unlike what my naïve mind used to think, missions doesn’t have to involve living in huts in jungles and being some sort of “super spiritual” human being. If we look at Jesus (granted, he was also God), we see an individual who simply took his everyday life and circumstances and saw them through a missional lens. Yes, missions can involve going to Thailand or the jungle or a million other places far from home, but it can also mean seeing needs wherever you are right now – that lady struggling to pay her bills, those kids from a rough neighborhood who need a good role model, the crowds at the homeless shelter downtown. These are the kinds of people Jesus would have surrounded himself with. And to love them is to live out a life of missions.
The Christian life is a constant balance of being poured into and then pouring out. Lose one half of that equation and your walk with the Lord suffers.
I used to think that missions was for the Lord’s sake – because it was what ‘good’ Christians did. Sometimes I thought it was primarily for others people’s sakes – the lost, the poor, the oppressed –- you know, the people who need physical, tangible help. And all that is true, to a certain extent. But I think one of the main reasons we are all called to live out missions is actually for our own sake. For our own personal growth. Participating in the Lord’s redemptive work of missions – at home or far away – is a necessary component of our journey as disciples of Christ. There are things we can only learn about life and faith and the Lord when we’ve joined him in his work of loving the “least of these.”
The Christian life is a constant balance of being poured into and then pouring out. Lose one half of that equation and your walk with the Lord suffers. Those of us in the Western world tend to focus on the being poured into side of the equation (and we’re good at it, too). But when we open up the doorway to the other side and begin to pour out…when we add missions to this beautiful, chaotic, messy thing called discipleship, we find that there’s even more room for new blessing and goodness to appear.
So missions? Discipleship? Two parts of the same whole. Two necessary ingredients for the fullest life of faith we could imagine.
What do you think? How have you experienced the presence of God in service? If you liked today’s article, be sure to visit Dana’s own blog at www.DanaBrux.com
- Blog Spotlight: Beyond Evangelical with Frank Viola (ofdustandkings.com)
- The Kingdom of God: Eternity Begins Now (ofdustandkings.com)
- The God of 18000 Starving Children (ofdustandkings.com)