This message is primarily for men. Not that it doesn't apply to women; it certainly does. But we’re not dealing with an overwhelming lack of women ministering in the war zones of Iraq and Syria. It’s single men we are not seeing out here, in cultures and communities with very conservative gender roles. While women serve vital roles and fill crucial needs, they literally cannot do everything in the Middle East. We need men here.
There’s something inherently masculine about God. As men created in His image, we communicate that dimension of His nature to others. Of course God has feminine qualities which are equally important, but that’s not our focus here; our focus is on what men represent when they are living among a people who have never heard the Gospel before. Men are integral to a hearty witness of the Good News because they model the leadership of Christ and the masculinity of God. It matters how we model that. This is why we don’t send delegations of women to the front lines in our place. How would audiences—however liberal they may be—have responded to Braveheart if we saw William Wallace allow the women of his village to go ahead of the men of the clan? Without even going with them? That would be absurd—but consider this: ofevery ten missionaries serving on the frontier (which is embarrassingly few to begin with), only two are men. Eight are women. How has this happened?
Perhaps our culture has made it difficult for Christian men to rightly define masculinity and bravery. Just last year, people were calling Bruce Jenner "brave" because he had a surgeon form female breasts over his formerly masculine, athletic physique. Any time disaster or crisis claims lives, hashtags go viral and our Facebook soapboxes compete for space. "We are Charlie" and we #PrayForAleppo, but who is uprooting themselves to bear witness of the Prince of Peace to bloodthirsty jihadis? Our culture now applauds having a strong opinion on social media as if that’s what makes one brave. We need to be clear on one thing: it doesn't.
If that’s what’s passing as bravery these days, it’s no wonder men are content watching Netflix while Instagramming a photo of their black coffee. Typically, our generation of men love action and adrenaline, anything to get the blood flowing, to feel alive—at least, thats what we like to see on TV and video games. We love Jason Bourne and Call of Duty, provided that we are spectating from our air-conditioned living rooms. I think this artificial form of love and war we experience through technology directly contributes to the embarrassing lack of single men making disciples in the Middle East. To say it plainly, there is a real war going on for the souls of people who have never heard the Good News. If you’re content playing pretend war with a joystick, you need to reevaluate the value of your contribution to the Great Commission—if you’re even making one.
“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
Jesus says if we are good soil, we will reproduce the Gospel. If we aren't reproducing the Gospel (making disciples) then we are notgood soil. We’re one of the other patches. No one reading this passage ever insinuates themselves into the parable as the soil that choked the seed of the Gospel, but it applies to someone. The Lord wouldn't have said it if it didn't. The seed being choked is not talking about salvation, but it is talking about bearing fruit. You can be saved and be absolutely irrelevant to the Great Commission. Guys, we have to be honest and admit that the cares of this world are choking the Great Commission out of us.
My point isn't that we need macho guys. We don’t. We’re not looking for the next arrogant, high-speed operator to come form a Christian militia. We want humble men who are here to make disciples because Jesus is beautiful. The former need not apply. We need obedient men. Men who obey Jesus because they loveHim. Loving Jesus makes men brave. Obeying Jesus’ costly commands makes men brave—and I mean obedience to whateverHe says. Jesus may call you to Wyoming for ministry. He might not. Either way, it’s brave and beautiful for you to follow the crucified Lamb wherever He goes. But we are making a special appeal for a few good men who know the Lord and have read His Word to answer the call and obey the Great Commission among people who don't have access to the Gospel.
Samuel Zwemer, the great "apostle to Islam," once asked: "Do we really believe missions is warfare, and the King's glory is at stake?" It is high time we take this seriously. The way forward is to read and obey the commands of Jesus. If we have a history of reading and obeying God’s Word, it won’t be surprising when the Lord asks us to move to a different people to bear witness to His Name. We won't have to make up an expectation of some sensational calling to get up and go. We’ll do it just because we love Him—and because He already asked.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
We know the way to please the One who enlisted us. It’s time to do it. Let's pack our bags and get on planes and join our courageous sisters—and maybe our future wives*—in the war.
If you sell an XBOX and all the outrageously priced games along with it, you may have just enough to buy a one-way ticket to Iraq. Something to consider while you’re evaluating your contribution to the Great Commission.
*I entered missions as a single man and met my wife along the way. Now we do this together.
 Matthew 13:22
 2 Timothy 2:1-10