Life is short. Life is hard. Life is not fair. Life’s a beach. Life is a gift. You know all of these little quotes that we throw out there as if life is really all that simple to capture in a meme or a phrase. In spite of the fact that we all know that life can’t be captured in one phrase, one of these is worth remembering today. How about reflecting for a moment on “Life is a gift”?
2020 has not seemed like a year where life is a gift.
There have been plenty of times when we have wanted to say “life is not fair” and “life is hard” because we want to explain away all the challenges, but as the year comes to a close, we need to remind ourselves that life is a gift. Truthfully, we are reminded of this truth every time someone passes away. We humans all know that life is the one thing money just can’t buy. Indeed, life is a gift.
Making the case that life is a gift is not a hard argument to win, even in a year like 2020. However, taking that declaration a little farther, let’s consider that if life is a gift, it might be that life is meant to be given away. ALL gifts are meant to be given. They are intended for someone other than the original possessor. A gift held tightly is no gift at all. A gift that is begrudgingly handed over is no gift at all. The very definition of a gift demands that it is voluntarily given. Therefore, if life is a gift, it is meant to be given. In fact, the question is not really whether life is meant to be lived, spent, given, or risked. The question really becomes to what should life be given? Should the gift of life be given for cause A or cause B? Should the gift of life be spent on item A or item B? Should the gift of life be risked for purpose A or purpose B? All humans have causes or desires for which they are willing to give their lives. Some will give their lives for happiness or the pursuit of it. Some will give their lives for the sake of others and their freedoms. Some will give their lives for the sake of love.
Only one cause for which life is to be given
As Christians, we can all acknowledge there is only one cause for which life is to be given. The cause of Christ is what unites us, binds us, holds us, and seals us as the Church. We are to be giving our lives for the cause of Christ. We are to be living and spending our very lives for the cause of Christ. Life is a gift! The gift is meant to be given away for the cause of the One who gave His for us.
This is where the life is hard part starts and the life is a gift part gets swept to the side. For whatever reason, we know life is a gift, and we know the One who gave it to us, and we know the One for whom it should be given. Yet, we cling to the life is hard part when it comes to actually receiving the gift and giving it away. This is evident as soon as the word “missions” enters the picture.
One author states the following about missions: “Missions is the purposeful transfer of the responsibility for the gospel to those who do not yet bear that responsibility.” Is it too much of a stretch to say that missions is a gift, given in a process that is not being demanded by the recipient and in which there is an intentional component to making it happen? Is it too far of a stretch to say that sharing the gospel, the Good News of the best gift, is also a gift for which life is to be lived? Is it too far of a stretch to say that life is a gift that is meant to be given for the cause of Christ by voluntarily giving this purposeful transfer away to those who aren’t even asking for the gift?
Instead of jumping on the life is a gift bandwagon when it comes to missions, it is much easier for the Church to jump on the life is hard bandwagon. It is easier to jump on the missions is an obligation bandwagon and forget that the gift is not a gift if it is given in obligation. We, the Church, must realize and joyfully embrace that life is a gift meant to be given away for the purpose of others receiving the best gift ever. We, the Church, must take action to be giving our lives for missions so that the purposeful transfer of the gospel is gifted to those who are ready to receive.
Jim Elliot, famous Christian missionary who died trying to bring the gospel to the Huaorani people of Ecuador, is quoted as saying: “He is no fool who gives what he can’t keep to gain that which he can’t lose.” Christian, life has been given, you have received, now give away what you simply can’t keep! Life is a gift!
Kirsten McClain serves in church missions mobilization for OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various free resources that OMF uses to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well. firstname.lastname@example.org