By Luke Sinclair,
Mission Partner serving in Japan
A turning point on my journey to mission lies somewhere between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, the two rival characters as portrayed in the 2015 musical, “Hamilton”. Set in the early years of American independence, Hamilton is a driven man who always says what he believes and works non-stop to achieve his vision for the nation and to leave a legacy. Burr, on the other hand, is cautious, non-committal, and constantly holds back on radical action. He is best summarised by his line:
“I’ll wait here and see which way the wind will blow.”
Although Hamilton is such an inspirational character, disappointingly, I’m probably more like Burr in personality. Thankfully, as Christians, we don’t have to be like either character. It was realising this truth – years before Hamilton even came out – that led to my next small step toward cross-cultural mission.
After coming back to following Jesus at University, Ephesians was one of the books I spent a lot of time in. The first chapter amazed me, particularly verses 9 -10.
“[God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” – Ephesians 1:9–10.
Before the creation of the world, God the Father made a plan centred on Jesus Christ. But He didn’t share this plan until the times reached their fulfilment – when Jesus came, died and rose again. What was the plan? It was “…to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Everything in all creation, all people, and all parts of this broken world would be reconciled through Jesus’ death on the cross and united together underneath Him as the head over all.
Besides the magnitude of this plan, what amazed me was its certainty. God didn’t have any ‘Plan B’. Neither was it some vague intention of what might happen. God planned Jesus to save and rule the world even before creation.
Knowing God’s plan means I don’t need to be like Hamilton, frantically trying to leave my mark on the world and work out a “Constitution” for God’s Kingdom. God has said what the future holds – Jesus will be in charge and will rule forever with perfect unity, peace and justice. He will get all the glory.
But also, throughout the Bible, God tells us the various ways He uses us to bring about His plan. So I don’t need to be a cowardly Burr, holding back, unwilling to stick out for Jesus until I see that it is safe to do so. If God has told us where history is going it is not foolish to take risks and do what He has called us to do. Being more like Burr in personality, that was an intimidating and uncomfortable idea. But if risk is right, then my daily question should be:
“How can I go one step outside my comfort zone today to see Jesus followed as king?”
One of my first small steps was when a friend started coming along to my church and became a Christian. Our pastor suggested I catch up with him each week, read a chapter of the Bible, pray together and help him grow in his faith. An older Christian had been doing this with me and I knew how helpful it was. But for me do this with an even newer Christian?! I wasn’t sure I could and I felt awkward even thinking about how to start something like that. But if God has said His Church will grow through His people “speaking the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15-16) then I could risk that awkwardness. And so I asked my friend if he was interested – he was – and we bumbled our way into something through which God blessed both of us.
This ‘small step’, this principle, has been a constant discomfort and I certainly haven’t been consistent in applying it. But God used that turning point in understanding to keep me asking the questions that led me to where I am now. There have been mixed results. Even now, I have no idea what the outcome of each step will be – my wife, Naomi, and I serving in Japan could be an absolute flop. But I’ve got the big picture of where God has promised the world is going. I have His word about how He uses His people – even their apparent failures. Risk is right. I’m not throwing away my shot to do what God calls us to today.