By Alan Avera

In our From the Field article this month, Todd Jones writes, “What a privilege it is to be missionaries in our city.”

Do you think of yourself that way? Do you think of yourself as a missionary in your city? Is it even legitimate to think of yourself as a missionary?

Let me ask another question: Who does Jesus commission in the Great Commission? And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to ob- serve all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 18-20 ESV).

The 11 apostles were the most immediate ones commissioned. We often think of these men as spiritual superstars, but they were in fact 11 ordinary men commissioned to do the extraordinary, by the authority and presence of the risen Lord.

Jesus also gave the Great Commission in geographic terms. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV).

As Acts develops, we see that others besides the 11 Apostles accomplished much of the expansion of the church. While the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, ordinary Christians took the Gospel to other areas. “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles… Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word (Acts 8: 1 and 4).

Texas pastor Bob Roberts observes, “What we’ve [too often] done is taken the Great Commission and vocationalized it or financed it—We’ve taken it out of the hands of most church members.”

I call that a vicarious exercise of our commission. We think that if we just support missions financially, support- ing full time vocational missionaries, then that lets us off the hook for being missionaries where the Lord sends us – in our own neighborhoods.

Think about your own town or city as you read again Todd Jones’ words, “What a privilege it is to be missionaries in our city.”