All of us who profess to be followers of Christ are missionaries, whether we realize it or not. We may be good missionaries or bad ones, but the Lord has left each of us on this earth as part of His mission to spread the gospel and fill the whole world with His glory (Habakkuk 2:14).
In the mid-1970s I was just completing law school, and was given my first client in the school’s legal clinic program. It was a traffic violation, and my client, Geneva Clark, had been charged with rear-ending another vehicle. Not only that, but her driver’s license had been suspended and was invalid at the time of the accident. And, to make matters worse, Geneva was drunk at the time of the accident.
When the police officers arrived at the accident scene, they reported that Geneva was “strutting boisterously and unclad” in the center of Broad Street, one of the main roads in town. When they charged her with disorderly conduct, she resisted arrest—so they charged her with that too.
Here I was, an intern with the legal clinic, wanting to do well in my first case. Approaching Geneva before we went before the judge, I told her my pessimistic assessment of her case. “Well, Mrs. Clark, I have reviewed your file, and as far as I can see, you have no defense at all.”
Geneva listened politely, and then with a twinkle in her eye started rummaging around in her oversized purse. “Don’t worry, young man,” she assured me calmly. “I have something to show the judge that will help.” She finally found what she was looking for, a rather crumpled-looking card of some kind.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Oh, this is my missionary card,” she replied seriously. “We’ll show this to the judge and he will understand that I’m a missionary…doing God’s work!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. There may be some areas of the world where a missionary can be effective by “strutting boisterously and unclad,” but Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, was definitely not such a place. All I could reply to Geneva was, “Somehow I don’t think that will help your case.”
This admittedly is a rather extreme example, but it shows how the world often looks at those who name the name of Christ. Instead of allowing Him to transform our character and manifest His sweet aroma, we end up living like the devil and then trying to use the name of Jesus to cover up for ourselves.
There will never be an impactful revival of Biblical outreach unless it is accompanied by a revival of Biblical character. Before Isaiah was ready to say, “Here am I! Send me,” his sins were purged by burning coals from the altar of God (see Isaiah 6:1-8). Before we can spread the holy fire, it first must be allowed to do its work in our own lives.
So, what kind of missionary are you? When people look at your life, do they truly see Jesus or just a repulsive religious caricature?
In order to influence people for Christ, they must want what we have. I pray you are living that kind of life today, full of the Holy Spirit and radiating His fruit in every situation (Galatians 5:22-23).