Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Purpose of the Mission of God

Our motivation for doing things deeply affects the way we do them, and the passion with which we do them. This is no less true for missions. Why do we go? Why do we give? Why do we stretch ourselves so? Why do some of us do little, or nothing?

Like with the first major question on this blog, my answer to these questions have changed over the past few years. The impression that I always received through preaching and teaching was that the primary motivating factor behind the Mission was that most of the world was lost and hell-bound. This is certainly a major motivating factor, but I am convinced it should not be our primary motivating factor.

There are many reasons that we sometimes get involved in the Mission, some biblical, some not. We get involved because we have compassion for people (Jude 22). Sometimes a feeling of debt may prompt our involvement as it did Paul (Rom 1:14-15). Perhaps pride sometimes motivates us to convince others of the truth of the Gospel (just to prove we are right). A sense of adventure has often been an underlying motivation for missionaries going to 'frontier' lands.

While there are many legitimate motivations for missions (like the first two above), let me suggest that they are not to be our primary motivations. Above all else, we go "for his name" (Rom 1:5).

Bible believers have long recognized that the end of all things is the glory and pleasure of God. Broadly, to glorify God is to draw attention to God as He has revealed Himself to be; to lift up His Worthy Name in worship and praise (and to get others to do it). Everything in existence and every action is to have that end.
  • All things were created by Him and for Him (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16).
  • He calls people and acts in history for His Name's sake (Ex 9:16, 14:4; Isa 63:14, etc.)
  • "The praise of his glory" is the end of all aspects of salvation (Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
It is easy to tell what His goal is for human history by looking at how things turn out in the end. In the end, all of the redeemed, yea all of creation, are worshipping the Lord with an intensity never before witnessed (Rev 4:8-11; 5:8-14, 7:9-12). This is the glory He seeks and deserves. This is the end of all things. This is the end of missions.

Paul was driven by his debt and by compassion. But what drove Him the most (just look at his references to the glory of God in his letters), what drives God the most, and what should drive us the most is the glory of God among the nations. "For His Name" we go forth.

What does this do for our passion and willingness to sacrifice? I hope it increases them. It is one thing to sacrifice when only the good of man is at stake. It is another thing altogether to sacrifice when the glory of God is at stake. As Charles Keen has written, we must realize that the winner or loser in missions is not primarily man (though he loses much). The primary winner or loser in missions is God. Though He is certain to 'win' in the end, it is our responsibility to let Him use us in His Mission to see His Name glorified among all peoples of the earth.

The Mission of God is to get glory to Himself by redeeming to Himself a people out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation who will worship Him in loving obedience throughout eternity.

It is His Mission. The churches are His tools. It is our Saviour God's glory at stake. What motivates us? Are you motivated enough?

It will change the dynamics of your involvement in His Mission if you will grasp what it is all about. For "He is worthy of our children. He is worthy of our dollars. He is worthy of our suffering." (Keen)

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