I’ve enjoyed reading about the adventures of the missionary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone. You can read about Livingstone’s journeys in the book David Livingstone (Heroes of the Faith) by Sam Wellman. What drives a man like Livingstone to leave the comforts of life for a people and society so different and so foreign to him? He desperately desired to bring Christ to the Dark Continent and to explore the land for the people’s benefit and spiritual health. His expeditions met many hardships and failures. He endured sickness, exhaustion, monsoons, tribal wars, slave traders and was once mauled by a lion. On April 27, 1862, Mary Livingstone, his wife, died from malaria. Though Livingstone made many important discoveries, he also would succumb to the harsh African environment. On May 1, 1873 he died from malaria and internal bleeding.
As I read about Livingstone, I couldn’t help but think about the world’s first missionary and greatest adventurer—Jesus. Ponder for a minute what love has done. Jesus left the glories of Heaven, and became human. He willfully chose to visit a foreign land, walk beside sinful men and live under heavy-handed Roman rule. Jesus assumed an obscure position—a carpenter’s son—rather than being a dignitary. This humble servant came to free us from our slavery to sin and death. He offered up the supreme sacrifice—His life—for every person on the planet. I love this verse in Philippians:
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8
Like Livingstone, Jesus was an adventurer. By surveying the scriptures we easily deduce that Christ lived most of His life in the great outdoors. We know that He fished, cooked, climbed mountains, slept under the stars, hiked long distances, spent time in the wilderness, and sat around campfires. He lived off nature, understood nature, endured nature and commanded nature. He experienced hunger, weakness and exhaustion. He laughed, He cried, and He showed anger.
As much as I enjoy talking about Jesus’ gutsy, manly side, I can’t begin to fathom His greatest and final adventure. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf …” Every Easter we attend sermons or passion plays, and we weep, reminded of the cruel death Jesus suffered. But do we really understand the spiritual side of His suffering? What did it mean for Jesus to “become” sin, for the Father to turn away? We may never know. We do know that it resulted in our salvation—for those who receive it and commit their lives to Him.
Anytime I see the cross now, I’m reminded of two things: how much God loves us and how He hates our fallen state. I embrace my obligation to take this message to the world. And while we are all considered ambassadors for Christ, I must say a special thanks and prayer for our foreign missionaries. May God protect you and bless you as you share the Good News with other lands and cultures.