As missionaries, we are called to protect truth. Sound teaching, rooted in biblical truth, is essential to ministry. However, since living abroad in the mission field, I have seen a pattern of “evangelism” coming into countries while claiming to proclaim the gospel. Upon closer observation the messages are filled with the idolatry of prosperity. This message produces fast growing congregations of insecure consumers of the gospel, rather than free and forgiven servants.
On the other hand, I’ve also found circles of missionaries teaching doctrine that closely resembles pagan tantric worship based on work, special words or prayers; a form of Christian mysticism. Neither teaching is the gospel, but they are “gospels” of sorts. One is centered around monopolizing and fabricating a savior based on revenue, while the other is entrenched in superstition and rituals that are labeled as “spiritual freedom”. Both messages are decontextualized, idolatrous, and severely damaging….especially to someone who has never had any sort of prior experience with Christianity.
This is nothing new. Paul taught about this throughout scripture:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)
The remedy for this virus is sound teaching rooted in biblical truth. As missionaries, we are sometimes the first ones to ever speak about Jesus to some people. The last thing I want is for a person’s image of Christ to be based on my preferences or idols . We need to continually and repeatedly go back to scripture and use it as a fire to illuminate what we teach while scorching up any weeds that might be encroaching in on the truth. Our calling is to guide people to build their foundation the Rock, not sand. This is what I’ve been praying about for the past year. That my message be Christ centered; nothing more, nothing less.