“Where does ‘missionary’ work begin and end?” That is one of the questions posed early in The Mission of God’s People by Christopher J. H. Wright, and he points out a few of the ways we generally tend to think about our mission in ways which are shaped by factors other than the Bible. He goes on to point out our fallacy of dividing the mission field from our own land and even our neighborhoods. Additionally, Wright points out our tendency toward a false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular realms of life.

Even in our views of ministry we often make such mistakes which clearly do not stand up to scrutiny. Most of us view the lives of missionaries (speaking of those who go to a foreign, distant place for the express purpose of communicating the gospel) as lives which are “freed up” to do Christian ministry. On our end, we provide support for these missionaries so they do not have to “work” a secular job. In so doing, we may not only promote a wrong view of our own lives in regard to God’s mission, but we likely miss the reality of how the daily lives of missionaries play out as well.

Consider the work of “foreign” missions in just about any location with any ministry: upon closer look the lives of those who have been specifically sent look more like our own than we often think. While they may be freed in some ways for the ministry at hand, there are often a vast number of life matters that must be fit into the daily and weekly schedule. Among these are getting and keeping proper paper work, dealing with property issues, learning the local language(s), and the simple daily necessities like buying or finding things to eat. (Not to be overlooked is also the fact that many missionaries today do work a job to make their stay in country legitimate.) Taking care of such necessary tasks can end up requiring a whole day or even more. Is this not part of making the mission happen?

Those of us, then, who are not in the so-called “mission field” tend to view our daily tasks and necessities as something which hinder our mission. We may succumb to frustration over the lack of time to “do ministry” as we find ourselves committed to many things we consider to be purely “secular.” By making such distinctions in our minds, not only are we making a false dichotomy in our own lives, but we are also failing to take seriously the all-encompassing mission of God for us.

How about you…how do the things in your life this week fit into your view of God’s mission?