What is our “why” in missions? Why do we seek to do all that we do in the name of missions? Knowing that we posses hearts that are desperately wicked and deceitful we should not sweep over this question lightly. Rather we should spend prayerful time trying to give an honest answer before the Lord.
I recently shared a short devotion with a group of brothers and sisters who have banded together to do a church plant. The question we sought to answer is the one asked above. Although this is a different audience the different questions that I address in the devotion below might be of use to you. It reads…
“On what basis are we moving forward as a core group in trying to reach the lost in Nairobi? On what basis are we going to pay the price that attaching ourselves to a group like this demands us to expect? e.g. time, comfort, money, death…its what Christ meant by “no one can come after me unless he takes up His cross and follow me…” It cannot be a sense that “I want to give something back to the community”, or a vague “it’s the right thing to do” not even if you say “coz the Bible says we do it” I say this now and will argue later that the Bible does not only tell you what to do but how and why you should do what you do…and all these must be in place for our mission to be God’s mission. The wrong “why” will only take you so far and will in no way please the One whose work we are seeking to engage in.
In writing to the Corinthians Paul speaks of the carefulness with which he approached that church planting venture “according to the grace of God as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation…” 1 Corinthians 3:10. In line with that he warns all who continue with the work to be very cautious of how they engage in God’s work of building His Church 3:10b, because all that we do shall be one day judged; 3:12-17. The context here no doubt refers to the content of their proclamation, Paul argued for Christ centered/Cross centered preaching from 1:18-31, 2:1-5 and in the text we are considering argued that the foundation that was laid was “Christ”. But that is not all that will be judged on that great day. In the next chapter Paul again refers to this day and points out to us something else that God will look at, I Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. Why we are doing what we are doing is of cardinal importance.
But before we answer that question (why are we a part of this core group that is seeking to see a church started in Nairobi) let’s deal with the question that the paragraph above has raised. “If that’s the case (a strict judgment awaits all who engage in this task), I’m not sure I want to get myself involved with this “spread the Gospel build the Church of Christ business?” To answer in brief I will say, well you don’t have a choice 🙂 …you are already in the business; the task comes with the salvation package, you can’t have a swim and not get wet. We dealt with this at the meeting so allow me to state it in brief here. The great commission wasn’t addressed merely to the disciples, Matt 28:20, all who the disciples taught were to be taught all the commands of Christ, which would include the command to go and make disciples. We see this happening with the those that they taught in Jerusalem Acts 11:19-21 note the Apostles up to this point remained in Jerusalem 15:2. Paul expresses his confidence in the believers at the church at Rome regarding their ability to “admonish” each other Rom 15:14. The word used here means to “instruct”. In 1 Corinthians 12 we learn that we are all part of the body. In Ephesians 4:15-16 we learn that through the things we “speak” to one another we are to build up the body. Many other references could be given to prove the point but I trust that these suffice. The task has been squarely laid on our shoulders to do it badly will cost us, to not do it will cost us still Matt 25:27 (the dude with only one talent).
So we go back to our question, what is our “why” as we seek to engage in this work? Answer, because we delight in seeing God glorified through the salvation of sinners (note here that this salvation that begins with our election Eph 1:4, manifested in our justification Rom 3:26, is ongoing in our sanctification 1 Corinthians 3:18 and will be consummated in our glorification 1 Peter 1:7-9; Rom 8:28-30). This is the only life that is not wasted. To grasp how we end up with that we need to take a look at the big picture of our lives. We were created for His glory Rev 4:11; Col 1:16; Isaiah 43:7. But we all rebelled against our Creator and glorified the creature Rom 1:21, Jer 2:13. This act naturally attracted the wrath of the one and only glorious God who will not share His glory with another, whose glory demands that all such inconsistencies be set right. God who in eternity past foreknew all these chose to bring himself glory by choosing out of these rebels a bride for His Son. This He would do by pouring the wrath that they deserved on the Son, Eph 5:25-26. Thus they would be free from the penalty, power and eventually presence of their sin (that which glorifies anything else in the place of God Rom 1:21; 3:23; Jer 2:13) and thus be set free to delight in the glory of God, Jn 17:3; Is 55:1-2; Jn 4:14, 23; Heb 9:14; Ps 16:11; 34:8; Phil 1:20-21, 3:8. Thus we who are in Him have finally tasted that for which we were created, true eternal satisfying pleasure in God, not fame, nor earthly wealth, nor sensual sin. Thus the pursuit for the glory of God becomes for us our singular purpose Phil 1:20-21. God has chosen to glorify Himself by saving sinners Eph 1:6, 14, 17, 2:4-7. This He is accomplishing through the Church Eph 3:10. So when we seek to see a local assembly born in Nairobi what we are seeking is to see God glorify Himself by bringing salvation to His elect a salvation which He begun in eternity past and will bring it to a glorious end when He returns for His Bride. “Through whom we have recieved grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…” Rom 1:5. This glorious task is to us our single passion. We say to all who would ask us why we would dare live such a life “ 13 for if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 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. ” AMEN.