Luke 2:8-14 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this [will be] the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Do missionaries have any thing in common with the angels that appeared to the shepherds in the field on the night Jesus was born?
I believe that they do.
Before I show you why I believe this, it’s important to know that the word angel in English is derived from a Greek word that basically means a messenger–whether a person or a supernatural, non-material being.
Here are the similarities I see:
- An angelic messenger and a missionary are selected and commissioned by someone superior to themselves–the true and living God that created them.
- The message they proclaim is given to them by God–it isn’t self-generated.
- They both willingly obey God and go to a location that He has selected, notthey themselves–and that location is substantially different from where they had been residing.
- They both initiate contact with “working class” people in the midst of their routine, day to day lives–people that have no way of knowing how their lives will be changed as a result of their contact with this obedient messenger and the message they bring.
- They both boldly declare that the message they bring is Good News about a Great Joy, which is offered to ALL people, whether or not those that hear the message perceive it as good news.
- They both provide facts and details that substantiate the truth about what they say, and then invite the hearers to investigate it themselves.
- They are both unashamed to praise God in the midst of those they are sent to.
- They both recognize that their although they are worshiping God and praising Him individually, they are actually joining in with a much larger community of God lovers and worshipers both on earth and in the heavens.
- They both declare that their God is glorious beyond compare and that what happened that night was an expression of His goodwill for all people.
Whether they’ve viewed themselves through this lens or not, missionaries need to understand that the method and the message that God began using that night through those angels is what He is continuing to do today through them.
Missionaries are the ongoing expression of His love for ALL people and the messengers that He has chosen to personally bring His Good News of Great Joy for ALL people TO all people, right where those people are living.
Jeff Jackson is the founder of Shepherd’s Staff Mission Facilitators, previously served with his family church planting in the central Philippines. He has planted churches in the United States and continues to serve as a church plating coach.