Let me throw down a challenge (or if that is to direct, offer a suggestion): if you feel yourself cold and indifferent to mission and evangelism, you need to refresh yourself with a big picture of what God is doing in history. If you are wrestling with the “task” of telling other people about Christ, perhaps it is because you see mission more dependent on you and your abilities and less about God inviting you into joining what he is already doing!
Last week, I used the metaphor of a father inviting his son to join him in crafting a beautiful piece of furniture. The father is the initiator and the controlling hand in the mission; his skill and expertise guide and direct the project. Yet, he also invites his son into the project, and he uses his son’s gifts and equips him to contribute. The son has joy because he is a part of his father’s work. And because he loves his father so much, to the son, what could be greater than this?
Do we think this way? Do we see our world as the place where our Father is actively on mission to redeem sinners and will one day bring full restoration to our sin cursed world? Are we so caught up with who our God is, are we so taken by his glory, and are we so compelled by his love for us that nothing could be greater than joining him in his mission?
If your heart needs to be refreshed, I encourage you to take in the grand sweep of the narrative of Scripture. See how the Triune God has initiated a grand and glorious plan to save us, his people!
See God the Father planning salvation and setting it into motion. He declares his intent to destroy the power of sin and Satan and save his people from the judgment of sin through a Messiah (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 42:1-4, 6; 53:1-12; 61:1-2). He initiates his plan through the calling of Abraham and promises to bless all the nations through him (Genesis 12:1-3). From Abraham he raises up the nation of Israel and delivers them from bondage in Egypt as a foreshadowing of the deliverance brought by the Messiah (Exodus 12:1-28; Matthew 26:17-29; Luke 22:1-20). Within the nation of Israel, he raises up the kingly line of David from whom the Messiah would be born (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89, 132; Amos 9:11-12; Isaiah 9:1-7).
See how, as Paul says in Romans 5, at just the right time, Christ was sent into the world to die for the sins of his people and accomplish and fulfill the plan of the Father. The Gospel of John emphasizes Christ being sent into the world; he is on mission for his Father (John 3:17, 34; 4:34; chs. 5-8; 11:42; 17:18). Matthew mentions this (15:24) as well as Luke (4:18, 43; also see Acts 3:20). Paul affirms the “sent-ness” of Christ (Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4) as does the author of Hebrews (3:1).
See also how the Spirit is also sent by the Father and Son to fulfill God’s redemptive purposes (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 20:22-23). The Triune God is indeed the originator of mission and is actively engaged in the redemption of his people.
At the same time, see how he sends his people on mission as well. In the Old Testament, in addition to his sending of Abraham, God also sends Moses, the Judges, the prophets (Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.), and kings, such as David. The mission of these men was to proclaim God’s word, call the people back to covenant faithfulness, and seek restoration and justice in Israel. In the New Testament, Christ sends his disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and we see the Spirit leading and sending the Apostles (Acts 13:1-4; Acts 16:6-7). In this, God’s people are sent and commissioned with the very mission of God. They are joining God in his ongoing work. Paul’s understanding of himself as an “ambassador of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:20) speaks to his awareness that he is an instrument for God’s purposes. The mission of reconciliation belongs to God himself; Paul simply sees himself as one sent to participate in that mission.
The redemptive story God is writing is breathtaking in its scope and beauty, but what we cannot miss is that this is our story too! God has invited us into his mission and that truth should change everything.
So I encourage you, study these passages (and there are many others!). Read the Bible as the unfolding story of God’s redemption. Refresh your heart and mind with who God is and what he is doing, and let those truths set your heart on fire to join God in his mission and tell other people about Christ. May we be a community that cannot help but tell others about Christ!
Next week I want to look more specifically at what it means to be a community that is joining God’s mission.