The question we are focusing on this week is this: Why do we believe missions is an important part of our ministry and our lives?
When we hear the word “missions,” we usually think of two things: short-term missions, where someone goes for a week or two to some other country to share the gospel, dig a well or build a church; and long-term missions, where someone goes to another country to live for any number of years in order to minister to the people there.
But missions encompasses so much more than just these two narrow definitions. Missions is the Christian life. There is no Christian life apart from missions. When you truly understand what missions is, you will know this to be true.
Let’s start by placing missions in its larger context so we can see where it fits into the Christian life. To put it simply:
We are created to love God. –> Love produces obedience. –> God calls us to minister somewhere. –> We go.
Now, let’s look at each of the four parts of this statement, so that we can more fully understand the importance of missions in the Christian life.
We are created to love God.
God created mankind so that he could love us, and we could love him in return. We were created to exist in a mutually loving relationship with him for all eternity. We were to find perfect peace and happiness in all that he is, and what he asked in return was for us to love him perfectly.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
— Mark 12:30
Our perfect love for him was to be our response to his perfect love for us.
Love produces obedience.
We weren’t created to obey God, we were created to love God. Now, I’m not saying that God didn’t want our obedience. Here’s what I want you to understand: Love produces obedience. And perfect love produces perfect obedience.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
— 1 John 5:3
Our response to God’s perfect love for us was to be perfect love for him, and if we loved him perfectly, we would obey him perfectly. God created us to love him, knowing that our perfect love for him would automatically result in our perfect obedience to him and his commands.
The failure of mankind was first and foremost a failure of love, not obedience. The moment mankind failed to love God perfectly, the result was a failure to obey him perfectly. Since the fall of mankind, every person has been born with a sinful nature and a heart that loves him or herself, rather than loving God. As a result, we are not able to fulfill the purpose for which we were created, which is to have a love for God that results in obedience.
Salvation is the process in which God removes our old heart that is in bondage to sin and creates within us a new heart that is free to love him.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
— Ezekiel 36:26-27
Our new hearts enable us to love God, which results in our being able to obey him. The saved person is free to love God, obey God and fulfill the purpose for which he or she was created.
God calls us to minister somewhere.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
— 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Each and every one of us who has been saved and reconciled to God has been called to the ministry of reconciling others to God. You have been called to reconcile others to God. This is your ministry. You need to understand it and embrace it. The only question now is where is this ministry of reconciling others to God supposed to take place? God already has a plan for where you are to carry out this ministry.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
— Ephesians 2:10
Before God even saved you, he had a plan for what your ministry would look like and where it would be carried out. Now that you are saved, your only job is to carry out this plan and walk in the good works that he prepared for you.
You might be wondering how you are to determine just what God’s plan for you is. Well, it’s quite simple: Love God, and walk in obedience to all that he has revealed to you in his Word and through his Spirit, and minister to people in your sphere of influence. If he desires for you to do more or go someplace else, he will reveal it to you in his time. His plan is different for each person. Your ministry is to reconcile people to God wherever you are and whatever you are doing, for he is sovereign, and where you are is where he has put you, and if he desires you someplace else, he will move you.
So, back to our question: Why do we believe missions is an important part of our ministry and our lives?
Our mission is to be what we were created to be. Our mission is to have a love for God that results in obedience. Our mission is to walk in the good works that God created us and saved us to walk in. Our mission is to carry out God’s plan for our lives, whatever that may be. Our mission is to go where he sends us and carry out our ministry of reconciling others to him. Your mission field may be your home, your work, your sports team, your school, your church, an orphanage, a hospital, a homeless shelter, another state or another country. It doesn’t matter. Wherever God calls you, you go. That is your mission. And wherever you go, don’t forget Jesus’ promise:
“…I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:20