You can’t share what you don’t have.
First and foremost a missionary must have a living faith in Christ. Whether it’s like an oak tree or a little sapling, the important thing is that it is alive. To test the state of your heart, here are some of the signs of a living faith:
A delight in the things of God. A heart that is alive loves to meditate on and savour the great truths of the faith, drawing deep joy and sustenance from them. The Gospel, the great message of God’s love and forgiveness for the wretched and undeserving, is something sweet to the senses. Though we feed our delight in different ways, there should be some things – Bible reading, Christian books, sermons, worship, Christian music – that regularly awaken our hearts to the greatness of God, and that are done not merely out of duty, but with true relish.
A true child of God naturally talks often with his or her heavenly Father, and learns to trust him for more and more things. There should be evidence of the “peace that passes understanding” as burdens are taken off our shoulders and put into our Father’s hands. Recognizing his or her own inadequacy to accomplish anything of lasting spiritual significance, a true child of God is constantly calling on God to guide, and bring forth fruit that will last.
When our hearts have been truly touched by the love of God, there is a newfound care and compassion for those around us. Knowing the depths of our own sinfulness, we can look more forgivingly on the sinfulness of others. Knowing how much God cares for us, unworthy as we are, we look upon those around us, especially the outcasts, the rejected, those deemed worthless in the world, as people of eternal value in God’s sight. Over time, more and more of our greedy, grasping, me-me-me nature gives way, and we draw more and more pleasure in living in close fellowship with Jesus and fellow believers, and in seeing others’ lives blessed.
Having been so blessed by the grace of God so as to be brought from death to life, a living heart can’t help but be weighed down by the lostness of those around who have not yet come to faith. And in thinking about the countless millions around the world who having never had a chance to hear, his or her heart cannot but be deeply convinced that great effort and sacrifice is necessary to bring the message to them. Whether in one’s own family, in one’s workplace, in one’s city, or across the world, no other issue is as important as this one of salvation.
At any point in any of our lives there will always be a mixture of zeal and indifference, love and uncaring. One of the key things about a living faith is that it is growing. As we live and relate to the world on the one hand, and learn more about and interact with God on the other, we cannot help but to learn and to change. Are you a different person now than a year ago? Can you see a deepening of love, wisdom, and obedience in your life?
To be a missionary does not demand perfection. Growth, and the willingness to grow further, however, is essential.