Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
When we think of missions, we often think of some faraway place. But I define mission work as us calling all people to receive God’s grace in Jesus and fellowship in the Spirit. In other words, mission work mainly consists of proclaiming and embodying reconciliation to the Father.
Jesus calls us into the mission field whether that field is home or abroad. The pursuit of missions begins right at home and in our local communities. In fact, international mission work naturally overflows out of faithful commitment to local missions.
And we often imagine missionaries as charismatic, adventurous, insightful, and eloquent heroes. Whether or not you possess these character traits, Christians should boast in God’s Spirit. Because God has endowed all Christians with Christ‘s Spirit, God calls all Christians into missions. God does not call us to be heroes. God calls us to be faithful to his mission.
In this article, I first want to discuss how Jesus’s life illustrates our mission. Second, I want us to see that Jesus’s Spirit empowers this mission. And lastly, it is important to know that Jesus’s resurrection anchors our mission.
Jesus’s Life Illustrates Our Mission
Jesus exalted his heavenly Father’s worth and beauty by submitting himself to the Father’s good and gracious will. And what was the Father’s will? His will was for our salvation in Jesus from sin and death.
His submission to the Father’s will earned our reconciliation with him. But this came at great cost and produces a great reward. Jesus cleansed us with his shed blood, consumed our punishment, and clothed us with his righteousness.
And consider this: The righteousness coming from Jesus, which we are clothed in, includes his love for others and submission to the Father’s will.
So, Christians should be committed to the birth and growth of faith in Christ in their neighbor. We too submit to the Father’s will—we want others to find salvation in Jesus from sin and death.
Contrary to what you might think, witnessing to Christ’s salvific work does not require grandiose words. We can memorize and share God’s Word with others.
And remember, the Gospel transforms the content of our speech and lives. Our lives season and build the bedrock for our words to stand upon. Speak and live out the truth in love.
Jesus’s heart of compassion is ours through the Holy Spirit. His heart should cause us to rejoice and grieve for our neighbor. His heart should enliven our countenance and inflame our passion for our neighbor that we devote every seemingly mundane, ordinary, little act to God for their sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, 10-12; Peter 2:12).
Faithfulness to perform seemingly small deeds of kindness allows us to share our message of salvation. Compassion built up Jesus’ credibility among the dejected. Compassion drove Jesus’ passion to share the truth.
In his public ministry, Jesus refuted Satan’s two lies, namely, “You are too good and far forward to need grace,” and “You are too broken and far gone to receive grace.” Jesus pointed his neighbors to his healing from their sins and infirmities.
We should do the same!
Jesus’s Spirit Empowers Our Mission
The Holy Spirit made us alive together with Christ.
We know ourselves and our sin. In our pride, we previously spurned submission to the Father and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. We cherished freedom to follow our heart’s crooked and wicked cravings.
Ultimately, we foolishly surrendered ourselves to the devil’s reign and joined the world in mocking God’s cosmic jurisdiction of judgment over wickedness.
But now we are changed due to God’s grace! Now we strive to humbly submit ourselves to the Father and depend upon the Holy Spirit. We cherish freedom to desire that which God desires. And, we cherish freedom to strive after that which pleases God and resist that which displeases God.
We know that this heart change was not our own doing, but the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. The heart change was only the beginning of the good work being done in us—and the joy of sharing the gospel to our neighbors is promised as well (Philippians 1:6)!
As the Holy Spirit infused the proper spiritual life and energy into our heart necessary for a spiritual rebirth, the Spirit will provide the proper life and energy into our weaknesses. Through his will, not ours, God made us his children. Through his will, not ours, God will make our neighbor his child.
The Spirit illumines the truth of the Gospel upon our neighbor’s souls. Moreover, the Spirit convicts our neighbor’s soul with gospel truth to live in conformity to God’s ways.
Do not boast or despair in your ability to analyze culture, captivate people’s attention, fearlessly look danger in the face, and hurdle obstacles thrown in your path. Boast in God. In Jesus, you understand and know him.
Jesus’s Resurrection Anchors Our Mission
Jesus expands our vision of missions not only in a geographic sense but also in a spiritual sense—how much we depend upon him. As we extend God’s grace and fellowship to others in a rebellious world, we will surely struggle.
We will fail. When we do, recalling the Gospel to ourselves realigns our gaze away from confidence in ourselves to confidence in Jesus.
Even he faced trials. His message was rejected and persecuted. His hometown and people hated him. The intellectual and religious elite despised him. His government allowed him to be punished unfairly on the cross. He lost loved-ones and creaturely comforts such as somewhere to lay his head. He wept.
Ultimately, Golgotha remained the trajectory of Jesus’s mission. There Jesus would exchange his righteousness for our sins. He would bear our iniquities laid upon him by the Father. Dying our death, Jesus enabled us to share in his life. Rising again, he forever put away death and established his eternal victory.
So we ought to march onward with confidence as expressed by Paul:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
What We Have to Look Forward To
One day, we will fully experience God’s grace and fellowship which we proclaim to others. Jesus’s presence and power find their ultimate expression in his resurrection.
One day, we will experience a glorified creation in a glorified body like Jesus. Sin, sadness, and death will be fully absent forever. Righteousness, joy, and life will be fully present forever.
For the moment, facing the present world, we model Jesus’s attitude of submission to the Father’s will. His attitude is best illustrated at the Garden of Gethsemane when he intimately surrenders himself to his heavenly Father:
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Matthew 20:22-23).
Praise be to our Lord Jesus. For in him, we have clarity, power, and hope to pursue such an attitude amid lethargy and grief in our Christian mission.