Matthew 10:40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.”
This verse has been both a comfort and a frustration to me, and probably to many if not most missionaries. It all comes down to the definition of “receive.” In our almost 37 years of ministry in Omura many people have been very kind to us, but without ever becoming overt Christians. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is to “make disciples,” and it would be hard for me to describe most of those people as disciples of Christ. Looking at the following verses, many people look at me as a righteous man, I think, and some people receive me as a prophet. Jesus says they will be rewarded accordingly. The problem is, I have no idea what that means! We have been given many things by the people of Omura, but whether they gave us those things because we were Jesus’ disciples or simply because they thought it was the polite thing to do, I have no real idea. It all comes back to the fact that salvation is God’s business. Only He can save, and only He correctly defines what salvation is. The message continues to be, “Repent and believe the Good News,” (Mark 1:15) but we have to leave the definition of repentance and faith in God’s hands.
This couldn’t be any more personal to me than it already is. My parents before me also labored to communicate Christ to the Japanese people, and they too received a very low “rate of return” for their efforts. God is the Judge. When I have already outlived my father by over five years, legacy is an issue that comes to mind fairly often. I don’t care so much about how I am remembered here on earth, but I care very much about who I take with me to heaven. I have lost several people whom I counted as real friends, but who never made open commitments to Christ. Agonizing over them does me no good, so I’ve got to commit them, as I commit myself, to my gracious and merciful God. I consider Universalism to be a very dangerous heresy, but part of me wishes it were true! I’ve got to keep being faithful, asking the Holy Spirit to work through me to open the eyes of those around me and to give me the strength to keep keeping on. I have full assurance of my own salvation, but I’m certainly not satisfied with that. I want to take more people with me! Letting that tie me in knots will rob me of the peace and joy God has for me and accomplish nothing good, but I must maintain urgency in sharing the Gospel, because I have no idea how much time I have available.
Father, this issue keeps coming up again and again, because people are so slow to believe. Thank You for the many people who have received us on various levels. I do pray that You would reward them with saving faith, for their eternal blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!