What an NBA elbow can teach us about foreign and local missions

Yesterday, in a fairly meaningless NBA game (most of them have lost meaning to me at least….) the artist-yes he did record a rap album-Ron Artest apparently threw a vicious (he claims it was an accident) elbow to the head of James Harden. It left Harden lying on the floor with a possible concussion. 
The ironic part of this whole thing is that Ron Artest recently changed his name to Metta World Peace. Of course the non-ironic part of this is that Artest was once suspended more than 80 games for charging into the crowd and fighting Detroit Pistons fans a number of years ago. 
But let’s just consider it ironic, that a man who desires world peace enough to change his name to it, would then assault an opponent-not a bitter enemy-on the floor. I’m not judging Artest/World Peace for it either, as I wouldn’t trust myself on the floor. Still, isn’t it a little ironic that someone would advocate world peace enough to change his name to it, and then assault his neighbor? I’m for world peace, but I’m not for peace on the basketball floor. I’m for world peace, but not for local peace.
I don’t know anyone who has had such a passion for world peace that he/she has changed his/her name. I also don’t know anyone who has had such a passion for world missions that he/she has changed his/her name. And of course they shouldn’t.
But I have known people who have a passion for world missions, but don’t have much of a care for those folks in their paths now. I’ve seen churches who are good “senders,” but they are cool with their neighbors going to Hell. And that to me is just as ironic as Metta World Peace elbowing an opponent on the floor.
God grants us different gifts, passions, and emphases. For instance, some have a bent toward youth ministry, foreign missions, church planting, local mercy ministry. And that is beautiful. But it is ironic for a church planter to ignore foreign missions. John Piper once said something to the effect of “being missional without a concern for foreign missions is not missional enough.” Well said. Local missions can never have as its end local missions. It should play a part in the nations bringing the glory due God’s name.
But those same churches and members who have a passion for foreign missions have a mission field that is also local until they leave. Now of course individuals won’t have the same passion locally as they do for a destination and a people overseas. They shouldn’t. But a pastor once shared some fantastic advice at a time in my life when I felt precarious about my future: “Just ask who does God want me to minister to today?” I’ve never forgotten that.
Thinking about who we may minister to today will keep us from solely focusing on who we will minister to tomorrow. Whether your bent is youth ministry, mercy ministry, foreign missions, children’s ministry, or no ministry, don’t ignore who God puts in your path today. After all, you technically never “arrive” at “tomorrow.” That’s probably why Paul reminds us, “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Ignoring those who God puts in our paths today may not put us on ESPN or get us suspended from the NBA, but it still falls short of the joy we can have when we align our purposes, passions, schedules, and even opportunities, with God’s Kingdom purposes in His world.

I’m thankful for dear friends who have a passion for foreign missions, but have continued to minister to their fellow employees until God sends them out. Both WV and ________ when they get there, will be better off because of them. And I am too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s