Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mission Impossible? 

Hello, Agent Cristão. Your assignment today, should you choose to accept it, is this: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Further instructions await you at your destination where you will join other operatives already working in the area. Should you be discovered remember that I am with you even to the ends of the earth.

I just love a good spy story don't you? Just the words "spy, secret agent, operative" conjures up images of mystery, intrigue and daring adventure in exotic far off places. Who hasn't at one time or another dreamed of being James Bond or Madam Hari sneaking into the bad guy's secret base to rescue an important hostage or retrieve stolen treasure, escaping by a hair and saving the world from the evil schemes of the villainous mastermind? Come on admit it, we all have, that's why the spy genre remains so popular.

Recently, Randall and I have started listening to a podcast from the National Spy Museum in Washington DC. The podcast is not a work of fiction but rather covers a wide range of subjects relating to the world of intelligence and espionage, from histories of the early days all the way up to the most recently declassified information on today's headlines. It's fascinating. But it got me to thinking that there are many parallels between the life of the Christian and the world of spies. Stay with me here. 

Think about it. The last instructions of Jesus to His disciples was what we call The Great Commission. You don't have to be in church long before you hear about it. Most pre K Sunday school children can rattle it off by rote as easily as they can quote the Lord's Prayer or the first few lines of the 23rd Psalm. But have you really ever given it much serious thought?

 Jesus said, Go.  An operative is told to, Go. Sometimes a Christian is sent to a far off exotic land to work and at other times the Christian is based in his or her homeland. The same holds true with a spy, after all homeland security is as important as infiltrating the enemy's base. Which brings up another interesting parallel:  We are to actively infiltrate the enemy's stronghold and work to overthrow his position of power by every means at our disposal. Our God is a powerful and creative God so the possibilities of carrying out this assignment are mind boggling.

Sometimes agents are sent into dangerous situations in order to rescue hostages. Well, guess what? So are we. It is such an intragal part of our mission that we even refer to it as 'saving the lost'. While Jesus does the actual saving, it is up to us to help show the hostage the way out of their bondage.

Another duty of an operative is to recruit  and train other agents at home and abroad. Hmm, what do you think making disciples and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded us to do means? Recruit and train others to serve in God's Kingdom. You may be assigned a homeland position or you might be sent to the field, either way it is a very important task.

 There is a system of leadership within the world of espionage  where an operative is guided and held accountable by a more experienced operative called a handler. The handler passes along pertinent information and instructions from the president or other leaders to the field operative. That's exactly what our ministers, church leaders  and mentors do for us. They give us important information and instruction from God the Head of our organization.

Many times, the operative does not have the full details of their assignment until they arrive at the place where they are to do their work. Often God only reveals our part of His plan on a 'need to know' basis. We just have to be willing to accept the assignment and the details will be made known at the proper time. Abraham's assignment was like this. God told him to go to a land that He would show him. Nothing much more, other than "you will be great." How many of us would be willing to do something that open ended? It's hard for us to attempt any life changing action without a clearly defined plan and all the steps laid out in advance with simple to understand instructions. And of course there are always the super covert operations where if the agent revealed any information to anyone not directly involved with the mission the results could mean  death. Yes, God sometimes sends His agents on those kind of assignments too. Don't believe me? Well, just think of the missionaries who are serving in hostile lands where they have to change their names and can't tell anyone where they are serving or what they are doing. Cloak and dagger stuff actually does take place in God's Kingdom all the time.

In the movies the agent is usually someone who goes in, does the job with a lot of style and gets out. I like to think of this mode of operations as Short Term Missions. Short term missions only last as long as it takes to get a specific job done, i.e. build a church or school, disaster relief, you know the dramatic projects that get a lot of attention. But there are other operatives who have gone in before, unnoticed, lived seemingly normal lives and laid the groundwork over many years for the dramatic climax of the operation. These are the long term missionaries. They live their lives and raise their families on the field, taking advantage of ministry opportunities and building the networks needed for the short term work to be done. In the movies these operatives fade in and out of the background at critical moments to help the protagonist along. Even though they are often quickly forgotten they are very important to the work.

Oh and least I forget the cool equipment. What spy story would be complete without just the right gadget for the job or the agent having the know how to construct something useful out of things at hand? Well, God said that He will equip us with everything we need to do His work, whether it is cutting edge technology that allows His Word to be spread covertly via mobile Bluetooth devices or the know how to purify water with a plastic coke bottle and the sun. Whatever we need, we just have to keep our eyes open and trust Him to come through for us. How cool is that? 

So if you truly take "The Great Commission" seriously, welcome to the Service. You never know just where the work will take you but you can be assured that there will never be a dull moment. And when things get tough remember, with God nothing is impossible and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Go with God, Agent.

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