When I hear the word missions My mind almost immediately conjures up images of distant and remote tribes needing to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, but is this the biblical image? Is it only the most dedicated Christians who go over seas? Can you be an authentic Christian without a radical commitment to missions? These are a few of the pertinent questions that need to be answered if we are to adequately understand what the bible means by mission.
Mission isn’t what we do, it is what we are
Missional is a term used today to describe a lifestyle of Christianity. You may have even heard the phrase being on mission. These are not new concepts. They have a new attractiveness because as Christians in American culture we have forgotten what it means to be a Christian. John Piper urges us that we can’t be committed to Christ without being committed to his cause. He says that a persons “commitment to missions is the measure of the authenticity of your theology.”1
I’ve struggled with this identity of doing verses being a lot for the last few years. We so often want to make missions about something we need to go do. But the true understanding of mission is that it is what we are by virtue of knowing the God of the Bible. John Stott says “God centered theology is always missional because God is a sending God.”2
God has been sending from the beginning. He sent Adam and Eve to cultivate and create culture (Gen 1:28-27, 2:15-17). He sent Noah and his family in to the Ark. He sent Abraham to the promise land. He sent the Israelites out from Egypt and back to the Promise Land. He sent Israel to be a light to the Nations. He sent His son to save the world and the Son and the Father send the Spirit to bring about his Kingdom. God is a sending God because God is a giving God.
Mission is simply knowing God and being so changed, so radically transformed and awed by his beauty and greatness and splendor that you can’t help but tell others about him. I’ve heard it explained this way. When you first fall in love with someone, don’t you talk about them all the time. Don’t you want other to meet them, to get to know them the way you do? This is how it is with God. When we know him, i mean really know Him, we love him, and when we love him we pray prayers like the Psalmist did.
So if we are not feeling a radical commitment to mission and we believe that we are Christians what do we do? Run to Him, run to the Cross, run to Jesus and plead with him. That you might know him more, that your heart would be changed. Dive into his word and be transformed. Pray that the Spirit might come in to your heart to change you. The problem is we all to easily take our eyes off of Jesus’ glory and turn them in on ourselves and we live anxious lives worry about our needs, rather than trusting God’s grace, goodness and provision, and giving ourselves to others just as he did just as he did.
1John Piper, RTS MIssions Lectures
2 John Stott, Missions Class Notes