What if the people of God actually believed the central doctrines that bind them together? Continuing from my previous posts, I want to ask this question, beginning with the core values of the church that I work for, but ultimately dreaming about the church as a whole. I want to see a people, united by God, come to full belief in the things of God, so as a personal exercise of hope and reflection, I want to draw out these lines of thought. The question I will go from today is: what if the church was relentless in mission?
What does it mean to be on mission? What is the mission? What are we trying to accomplish? When we hear “missions”, people in the church think of going overseas and living in a hut in Africa. Missions makes people uncomfortable and of all the things in the church I think this one is the most likely to make people say, “That’s not me, that’s only a few people that God calls.” I want to start by saying that the Bible speaks of all Christians being called to the work of missions, if you are in Christ you are a missionary, and although you might not be called to the same exact mission-field as someone working in a foreign country, you are called to be on mission for Christ.
So why be on Mission?
Missions are Necessary
Missions is the spread of the Gospel of Jesus. Before we can talk about the specifics of the call of missions, we have to understand the necessity of missions. Romans 10:14-15 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” Paul is saying here that for people to believe in Jesus and be saved by the Gospel, the good news, then someone needs to tell them the gospel. How are people going to believe in something they haven’t even heard about? There’s something in psychology called the bystander effect, it basically says that when people see somebody else in trouble, they are less likely to help if there are other people around because they assume that someone else will take care of it. Christians are so guilty of this in missions, we see people in trouble every day. We are surrounded by people living spiritually dead and destined for hell, but we don’t take concern or responsibility to help because we figure somebody else will handle it. This is why missions is so important! People need to hear the Gospel to believe in the Gospel, and if they don’t believe in the Gospel, putting their faith in Jesus, they will NOT be saved.
Missions are Commanded
One of the last things that Jesus says to his disciples is usually known as the great commission, you’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but I think it is an important thing to center on before moving forward. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” So what does this mean for us? If Jesus is Lord, which we know he is. Not only does he get up out of the grave in this same chapter, but he tells us right here that he has all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus is in charge. If Jesus is Lord, then we are commanded to go and tell people about him. It’s not presented to us as optional, and if we believe in Christ and are saved by him, then our lives should be lived as an outpouring of that.
Missions are Worship
One of the first and probably the most important reasons why we don’t prioritize missions in our daily life is a lack of worship. John Piper has a great quote that says this: “Missions exists because worship doesn’t….Worship, therefore, is the goal of missions.” What I believe he is getting at here is that there is insufficient worship of God in our own lives that prevents us from taking His word to the world, and there is insufficient worship of God in the world that brings the necessity for his word to be sent out. You might be wondering what I’m talking about. Worship? Like the songs we sing on Sunday mornings? No that is worship music, which is one way that we express our worship when gathered together as a church body, but what I am talking about is the Biblical definition of worship. The Bible defines worship in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.” Worship is when we give our whole self to God for the advancement of His glory as a result of His mercy and grace that he has freely given us through Jesus. We can also see this in the greatest commandments of the Bible. Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-39 that the greatest command of the Bible is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Missions is the coming together of these two commands in our lives. Because we love the Lord with everything that we have, and we worship Him with all of our life, we love others by showing them Jesus, who is the greatest example of love, and teach them to worship Him. This is what the Bible is commanding us.
Us Joining Christ on Mission
Another reason we don’t prioritize missions in our lives is that we don’t believe that it really applies to us. We think that missions is just talking about some people who have been called to go live overseas as missionaries. Wrong. Missions applies to all Christians, and it is something we should be mindful of in our everyday life. At school, at home, on our sports teams, we should be showing the love of Christ, and speaking the joy of His Gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says this: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, and therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Because Jesus died for us, we no longer live for ourselves, but live for Jesus! The same passage goes on in verses 18-19: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” We are reconciled through Christ, and so Christ is reconciling others through us! God loves you enough not just to save you, but to invite you into His work of saving people. Reconcile means bringing someone back, to restore them. God gave us the job of helping restore the world to the way it is supposed to be: in obedience and submission to Him. That’s crazy that he let’s us, broken people, saved by grace, be a part of that.
Not Alone on Mission
That brings us to our third reason why we don’t prioritize missions in our daily lives: we are overwhelmed by that idea. We are scared of the responsibility of reconciling people to God. What if we fail? What if we get lazy and don’t tell someone who needs to hear it? What if we say the wrong thing and someone gets mad or doesn’t understand it right? That’s scary stuff. I look at myself and how sinful I am, how much I fall short of God’s word, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But that shows that we are believing lies. Lets look back at 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 one more time: “All this is FROM GOD, who THROUGH CHRIST reconciled us to HIMSELF and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, IN CHRIST GOD WAS RECONCILING the world TO HIMSELF, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” We may be given this mission, but we are not the ones doing the work. It is by God’s power, God’s grace, and God’s faithfulness that this message goes forward. We are merely tools that he chooses to use out of His love for us, and he has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us and work through us as we do this work. God will not fail to reconcile those he has chosen. Romans 8:28-31 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” If this is true then we have nothing to fear. I am not the means by which people are being saved, that is Jesus, I am just a messenger. The weight is off my shoulders, I simply need to be faithful to the work that God has called me to, the work of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Jesus commands us to be on mission, that means that we are involved in God’s work of redeeming the world to himself. Mission grows naturally out of our worship of God and our obedience to his call to love Him and love others. We get to be part of God’s work, but we are not the ones who save people, and that means we can take a deep breath and trust that God is going to do His work, whether we are called overseas or to our workplace. Therefore we get to go in grace to take grace to others.
Please join me in praying that God’s people, myself included, would embrace the call to missions. Ask that God would raise up men and women bold enough to go forth and share the good news in their friend circles, workplaces, and in unreached people groups all over the world. Finally, ask that God would build you up in faith, and that you would be confident to go and tell others about the great love of Jesus!