Our understanding of missions is rooted in the nature and identity of God. The more we understand God and His nature, the more clearly we see our mission in the world. Four eternal truths help us establish a strong theological underpinning for our mission activity.
- God is a Missionary God. Our Creator is one who sends and is sent. “For God so loved the world that he gave [sent] his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God called Abram to leave his country, his people and his home, so that He could bless all peoples on earth through him (Genesis 12:1-3). Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt declaring, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:4-7). God now sends His church to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus, the Son came “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). We have been created in God’s image. Those restored to His image are sent into the world to fulfill His mission.
- God Calls His Servants to Join Him in His Mission. “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9). Only God can provide the increase, yet He calls us to plant and water. I am always amazed when I hear that God has called me to be His “fellow worker” in His mission. This understanding motivates me not to ask the Lord to bless what I am doing but rather to ask Him to involve me in what He is blessing.
- The World is In Need of a Savior. The statement may not be “politically correct,” but without Christ we are lost and separated from our God. Jesus looked upon the multitude and was moved with compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. His Messianic ministry then becomes our ministry of preaching, teaching and healing; bringing the love of Christ to the needs of the world. The cry of those separated from Christ calls us to “ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest field “(Matthew 9:35-38).
- Jesus Promised to Build His Church. Jesus affirms, “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Our role is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20); Jesus will take those disciples and build His church. It is not an either or proposal, but rather a “both and.” Yet, we must not overstep our role. Jesus builds his church. I have spent too much time trying to “build the church,” without understanding that is God’s role. I am to equip others to be his obedient followers and He takes these disciples and builds them into His church. We must not fear, doubt or question this clear promise of God.
As we struggle to grasp the nature and character of God and His kingdom, we gain a deeper understanding of our identity and role which is rooted in eternal truths that do not change with time, culture or generations.