Why Mission Matters!

Our ideas about participating in ‘mission’ are many and varied! To some, it seems daunting and way beyond the comfort zone! To others, mission is what happens overseas, and requires a special calling if we are to get involved. To some, it’s regarded as the pastime of the super-zealous. And to other, perhaps, it is still seen as a special department of the church – an alternative to ‘prayer’ or ‘bible study’!…

But, as you’d expect, the Bible gives us an altogether different perspective! In the pages of the New Testament we find ‘mission’ is part of the normal day-to-day life of the church – requiring neither a special calling nor a special bravery. Here, mission is what inevitably happens when followers of Jesus live their lives with compassion and generosity towards those around them.

And it seems to me that the early church were absolutely convinced of a few things that fundamentally shaped this perspective; this straightforward view of mission and how they participated in it. Let me suggest four such convictions they had, that God wants us to be equally convinced about:

Firstly, let’s be convinced that our mission is nothing less than the outworking of God’s eternal purpose! The very first page of the Bible announces that God’s plan is to fill the earth with people in His image; God’s original commission to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). Thereafter, all the covenants included an ‘expansionary’ dimension: Noah, like Adam, was to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1); Abraham was promised descendants too numerous to count (Genesis 15:5); Moses received a covenant designed to keep God’s people holy and healthy as they expanded in the promised land (Exodus 20ff); and the covenant with David involved an everlasting, ever-growing Kingdom (2 Samuel 7). It’s no wonder, therefore, that when Jesus gave His followers what we now call the ‘great commission’ – telling us to “go into all world and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19f) – He was effectively re-stating the original commission and re-emphasising God’s eternal purpose and desire! God wants His People everywhere, so His Kingdom comes and His glory covers earth as waters cover sea!…

Secondly, let’s be assured that our mission is nothing less than continuing all that Jesus started!  As Luke tells us, the four Gospels are a record of “all that Jesus began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1), and the start of the ‘second phase’ of His ministry is described in the Book of Acts – where we see His Church continuing all He’d started: proclaiming the Good News of Kingdom and proving He’s King by setting people free and establishing churches in every place!…

Linked with this, thirdly, let’s understand that our mission is nothing less than the very reason Jesus sent His Spirit!  He told His disciples to wait until they’d received the power that He’d promised (Luke 24:49) and that the baptism with the Holy Spirit would empower them to “be His witnesses” in the locality, in the region, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). To put it another way, the baptism in the Spirit was the ‘ultimate act’ of Christ’s first coming: it wasn’t enough to have a forgiven people; He needed a Church empowered by His Spirit so they could continue His works!  He lived, died, rose, and ascended….so that He could send His Spirit!  It was all part of the eternal plan: He ascended with His physical body but left a spiritual Body behind – His Church, now filled with His Spirit.  And all this means that the baptism and empowering of the Spirit is for our mission and not just for our meetings!… 

And then lastly, let’s appreciate that our mission is nothing less than the key to Christ’s return! Jesus told us He will come again and He told us exactly when it will happen (and, therefore, when “the end will come”). So there’s no need for speculation! The return of Christ will take place when (and only when) “this good news of the kingdom” has been “proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations” (Matthew 24:14).  The early church were convinced of this! And so their zeal and devotion to spreading the Good News everywhere was deeply rooted in a belief that fulfilling the great commission of their Lord was the most significant thing they could do with their lives…

Mission really matters, and never more so than right now! And when followers of Jesus live their lives with compassion and generosity towards those around them we experience the joy and fulfilment of participating in His eternal purpose, continuing all that He started, living-out a life empowered by His Spirit and – not least – hastening His return!

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