What Do We Mean When We Talk About Christian "Missions"?
What do we mean when we talk about Christian “missions”?
Since Genesis 12:3, it is clear that we serve a missionary God. By cooperating with Him, we participate in the fulfillment of His plan and purpose to provide to all people the good news that God came to earth in human form to save us from our sins and to provide a Way to spend all eternity with Him. Jesus is the quintessential model of missions; one of the most often used phrases in the New Testament is “Jesus went.” He is the model of our faith and how to put our faith into practice doing what He commanded and modeled. Before Christ gave the Great Commission, he modeled missions for us by His very presence and through His ministry and He trained His disciples to do likewise. He said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matt. 9:37-38. And He immediately sent His disciples to tell of His coming, giving them the power and authority that was His to give. Read Matthew Chapter 10.
We are all familiar with the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples before He ascended, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you……” Matthew 28:19-20a. and “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16-17.
So as God’s disciples, there are certain things that we should keep in mind:
1) God very well could save all peoples at will, but He has chosen to use His disciples, the Church, to move using their weaknesses and their strengths. I Corinthians 1: 26-29. If we read that scripture passage carefully, we must come to the conclusion that missionaries are not “very special people,’ they are ordinary people that God has chosen to do extraordinary things……..”not that any man should boast.”
2) The Holy Spirit empowers God’s mission. Please spend time reading Acts chapters 8, 10, 13 and 15.
3) God’s purpose is to reach ALL nations. Matt 28:19-20a.
4) God has chosen the Church, His people to be the representatives of His love.
5) Our job as His representatives is not be overly concerned with the outcome, i.e. who and how many will listen and believe, but to take the Word to all peoples and, if they believe, to disciple them. Matthew 10:13-14 and Matthew 28:19-20.
The question then is this: If God’s people are the representatives of His love and He has told us and modeled missionary work for us, what is the practical application?
1. The church (you and I) is to be the base, not a missionary organization. This is the New Testament pattern—Paul was given great latitude, but he remained accountable to Antioch.
2. Mission is not inter-church aid—the basis must be church planting and discipling.
3. We need to keep the end goal ever present, “That the world might believe.”
What does all of us mean to us as God’s representatives?
If we really want to be like Christ, we will allow ourselves to learn what He said and what He modeled. We can do that only by immersing ourselves in the Gospels and by studying His life. If we truly want to be like Christ, we will speak to Him and learn to live in His presence; we will follow His instructions to pray to the Lord of the harvest for laborers; we will become willing to leave our comfort zones like He was willing to leave His for us. We will listen.