Churches often talk about Mission, but why do we do it? John Piper says, “Mission exists because worship doesn’t,”. The Spirit soaked, ever-enduring longing and ambition of the church is to bring every tribe and nation into the worshipping community of God’s people so that, “every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11).
In Acts 13:17, Paul quotes Isaiah where God says, “It is not enough for You to be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob… I will also make You a light for the nations, to bring My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). On first appearing to His disciples after His Resurrection, Jesus showed them his hands and side, and John notes, “Again Jesus said, ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you'” (John 20:21). When Jesus met the disciples a second time, his first words were, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). In Romans 15:20 Paul’s hunger to share the Gospel with unreached people groups is clear, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.”
Right through God’s Word, all Christians are encouraged to consider themselves called to impact nations for Christ. However,the moment we read the Bible as a past tense book it is no threat to Satan – it has no danger, no power to convict a modern Christian.
We are all sent by Jesus into mission, either going in person, going in finance, or going in prayer. We see the heart of God for all nations (and people) to come and bow before Him.
Perhaps importantly though missions isn’t an all give and no take relationship. Without a doubt, there is sacrifice involved, be it time, finances or geography but engaging properly with it grows our faith. It can bring great challenges to us but it brings us closer to the heart of God and towards righteousness. Eric Liddell, Olympic gold medallist and missionary to China said,
“Many of us are missing something in life because we are after the second-best, I put before you what I have found to be the best – one who is worthy of all our devotion – Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour for the young and the old. Lord, here I am”
Engaging with missions also connects us to The Church. Not just our brick and mortar building but The Fathers great body of believers worldwide which was first spoken about in the New Testament.
Christians around the world share the same DNA. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). And as C.S. Lewis writes there is one purpose to all of this.
“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.”
Making ‘little Christs’ isn’t just about evangelism. It’s about building individuals to actually live like him. Acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with God. It’s engaging with the practical steps that Christ calls us into which might be giving away money, discipling, serving ‘the nations’ here in Australia through local ministries or even uprooting ones life overseas because that is what He’s asked. It might just be praying.
A worker for Open Doors, who help support the persecuted church recently asked a local Egyptian pastor how Western Christians could pray for their brothers and sisters in the region. The pastor responded by saying:
“Please don’t pray for us. Please pray with us. If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things,” the pastor said. “You will pray that the church will be safe. You will pray for persecution to cease. We are not praying for these things. We ask God for the salvation of Egypt. We ask that he draw millions of Muslims to Christ. We ask that we will be bold and clear in sharing our faith with Muslims. And we pray that when the inevitable persecution comes… that we will not run away, that we will be faithful in that persecution even if it costs us our lives. Will you tell your friends to pray these prayers with us?”
The pastor also exhorted his congregation and us in the West to keep on praying. Referring to the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18, he said, “Jesus showed His disciples that they should always pray and not give up.
This is a great encouragement to us in Australia to continue seeking God’s will for the nations. We know Christ wants us to be a part of His plan for all people to know him. Yes it is the spirit who quickens but we have been entrusted with the message of the ‘Good News’. Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20,
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
As Luke writes in Acts 17:25-28, “And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'”
We thank God for the many great things He is doing around the globe including millions coming to follow him. We pray in faith and look forward to praising Him for what has yet to occur.
This weekend the Bridgeman community is joining together for the ‘For All Nations’ – Bridgeworld Missions Conference as we long to seek God’s heart for the nations. If you’d like to come, register HERE.