As we’ve been sharing our story and the call that God has placed on our lives to take the gospel to Papua New Guinea, one of the most frequent comments we hear is, “Oh, I could never do that!” And of course, there are some real reasons that some people truly couldn’t do what we’re doing–
- Some people have physical and health limitations
- Some people lack the spiritual qualifications
- Some people have unmanageable debt that keeps them tied to their job (at least for now, but usually not “never“)
- And the best reason of all not to go… For some people, God has a different assignment for them in his kingdom. Not everyone can be goers; we need givers and pray-ers and helpers of all kinds. That’s the way the body of Christ works (1 Cor. 12:12-27)!
So there’s the disclaimer–yes, not everyone is supposed to go to Papua New Guinea; it would be ridiculous if everyone tried to.
But still… there’s something rather unsettling about “I could never.” I think that most of the time it’s a lie that Satan uses to keep far too many of us from encroaching upon his territory.
Early on in its history, Coca-Cola began to recognize the incredible financial potential of the global soft drink market, and they made it their aim to penetrate every society on earth so that there would be nowhere on the planet that the name of Coke remained unknown. They even memorialized their goal of total global domination with this little ditty:
This is a “gospel” of sorts. The “good news” of Coca-Cola is that if the whole world could drink it, everyone would have a home filled with love, we would live together in harmony, and there would be an abundance of apple trees (apples are nice), honeybees (who wouldn’t want to solve the bee crisis?), and snow-white turtledoves (not sure why these are so important). We are promised that this is the real thing, it’s what the world wants today.
Anyone can see that this is a false gospel–just a commercial, a thinly veiled grab for money–yet it proved to be one of the most successful and influential advertisements in history. Why? Because it taps into a universalhunger all humanity shares for a world that is profoundly different than the fallen one we’ve experienced so far–the one that’s wracked by disease, war, poverty, hatred, revenge, and death. We were created for Eden, and our hearts still long for it.
But Coke isn’t the real thing. Jesus is.
It’s Jesus who is the hope of the world. His healing is the cure for disease. His peace is the antidote to war. His riches overcome poverty. His love drives back hatred. His forgiveness empties our need for revenge. His resurrection conquers death. Jesus is the real thing.
And not only can we take him to the lost, the broken, the hurting, the needy, and the wounded–we must! We are commanded to:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria
and to the ends of the earth.”
According to the people over at the Joshua Project, out of the 16,404 people groups in the world, 6,649 are still unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ, representing 3.08 billion people, or 42.2% of the world’s population. 66 of those 6,649 groups are in the Finisterre Mountains of Papua New Guinea, where we’ll be going in Fall 2017.
The job of the Church is to take this gospel into every corner of the globe, to every society on earth so that there would be nowhere on the planet where the name of Jesus remains unknown. God’s vision is that he would claim worshipers from every culture, every tribe, every nation, every language so that every kind of people will be represented in his kingdom, and that heaven will be full of every sort of praise that can be offered up to God.
So the need of the world confronts us. The command of God directs us. The vision of God inspires us. And the love of God compels us:
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,
we try to persuade others…
For Christ’s love compels us,
because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
And he died for all, that those who live
should no longer live for themselves
but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
(2 Corinthians 5:11-15)
So what’s up with “I could never“? My fear is that too often it’s actually, “I don’t want to,” “I’m afraid,” and “I’m not going to consider that.” Now, maybe for you, “I could never” is because God has already shown you where he wants to use you in his kingdom–great, go do that! Or maybe you’re a quadriplegic, or you’re 93 years old with dementia, or you’ve been sentenced to life in prison. Fine, Papua New Guinea is probably not the right place for you to serve. And there are plenty of other legitimate reasons.
But are you sure? Have you really thought about it? Have you actually asked God what he wants from you in these short years that you’re going to spend on this ball of dirt? For most of us, I suspect that at its root, “I could never” is usually about comfort, and that’s just not a good enough reason. Did you know there are more unreached people groups in Papua New Guinea asking for missionaries than there are missionaries willing to go to them?
The Church of Jesus Christ has been toiling away at the Great Commission for 2,000 years, and we still have 6,649 more groups to go. But Coke hascompleted its Great Commission–they’re done–there’s not a place left on earth where people don’t know the name of Coke. And it only took them 100 years to do it. They did it for money, but we do it to gain honor for the King of the Universe!
Scripture tells us that the job absolutely will be accomplished; God will have the heaven he wants:
“After this I looked, and there before me
was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
They were wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.
And they cried out in a loud voice:
‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’”
Maybe it’s time to take a good look at our “nevers” and rethink most of them. After all, the servant doesn’t tell the master what he will never do.
The thing that makes the Great Commission so great is that the Church is always on offense, never surrenders the ball, and never goes backwards. When God brings a people group into his kingdom, it is his forever–no one can snatch them out of his hand (John 10:28-29). And we are gainingmomentum! Unreached groups are becoming reached at a faster pace than ever before in the history of the world!! There will one day be a generation that takes the ball across the goal line and spikes it in triumph in Satan’s face and shouts, “TOUCHDOWN! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!”
God’s assignment will be completed. The only question is whether you’re going to be part of it. My family and I are going to Papua New Guinea. What are you going to do? Maybe a good place to start is to pray, and readthis.
Because the truth is that most of the people who say, “I could never” actually could.
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