By Bob Stock
Jesus has commanded all of us, His followers, to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20 NKJV). Those who don’t go must send those who go, both financially and prayerfully. I believe that at least ten percent of all true believers in the American evangelical church—a tithe—are called to the global mission field, especially to unreached areas, to fulfill the Great Commission.
Why isn’t this happening?
Well, because of excuses.
We all have an arsenal of excuses when asked to do something we don’t want to do. We are not alone in this. Moses gave the “I’m not eloquent” excuse when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Gideon gave the “my family is of low stature, and I am but a youth” excuse when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of bondage from the Midianites. Jeremiah gave the “I’m but a youth” excuse when God called him to prophesy against Judah for its wickedness and disobedience.
These biblical characters gave some of the most prevalent physical and mental excuses for not going to the global mission field:
- “I’m too young (or too old).”
- “I’m not a good communicator.”
- “I don’t have the right skill set.”
- “I come from a poor family and can’t afford to go.”
- “I’m not spiritual enough.”
Many believers prioritize the local outreach excuse for not going to the global mission field:
- “There are enough hurting people locally. Why should we go elsewhere?”
- “We are all missionaries where we already are.”
- “Let the national church reach their own” (without realizing that many areas have no or only a fledgling national church)’
- “Global missions is for the other guy, the super Christian.”
Jesus in Luke 14:16–20 stated other excuses, some of which we still give: “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you have me excused.’ Still another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”
Embedded in this story are three “unspoken” excuses that we still use today for not following the mandate of Jesus. These might be the most common excuses, but they are not openly conveyed as they would portray us as unspiritual.
- First, a piece of land representing wealth. We in America are relatively prosperous and don’t want to give up our wealth, including the comfort it brings.
- Second, five yoke of oxen representing employment. We in America believe in the American dream and this land of opportunity in which to fulfill our dreams, including its perceived security.
- Third, a wife representing family. We in American don’t want to leave parents, children, and grandchildren behind. Our order of priority can easily be (1) family and self, (2) country, and (3) God as we forget our primary citizenship is in heaven.
We as individual followers of Jesus will have to answer to Him someday on why we haven’t participated in His mandate to take the gospel everywhere. Note that Jesus left His heavenly home to save us and that all of the twelve apostles left their home in Galilee to “go,” most dying a martyr’s death.
Jesus in Luke 9:23–25 says: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
And in John 14:15 He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
God assured Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah that He would be with them. They ultimately gave up on their excuses to follow and obey the Lord.
How about us?