Missions: Motive and Method (2 Corinthians 5, Isaiah 6, Matthew 5; John 17)
There is a single ultimate motive in missions and evangelism: the glory of Christ Jesus. All other motives are insufficient, no matter how seemingly good. And if the motive is the glory of Christ, then the method is the Bride of Christ.
The Correct Order (2 Corinthians 5:14ff, Matthew 5:13-16)
The love of Christ (i.e. the love He has for us) controls, compels, and constrains us. Because Christ died and was raised from the dead, anyone who is now in Christ is made new and has been given the responsibility of an ambassador. God saves us to send us so that others might be saved; He reconciles us to Himself, in order to make us reconcilers of others. Paul’s order in these verses is intentional: First, we are changed by God and converted to Christ, giving ourselves to Him now in obedience and love (v 17). Then, as we give ourselves to Him, we also give ourselves to others in seeking their spiritual good (v18ff).
As those who have been made new, our ministry of reconciliation now involves us being salt and light in the places in which we live (Matt 5:13-16). Salt is a preservative, and so we are to be an influence for good, used to delay moral and spiritual decline. We might feel insignificant, as though we have very limited opportunity to shine brightly, but when we live in a world that is so full of darkness, even a seemingly small light is in such contrast that it’s noticed by all. The motive for being salt and light is that through our lives others might give glory to God.
– Why is it important to get the order right? What happens when we focus first on evangelism/mission without considering the need to give ourselves first to Christ in worship?
– In what sense is the world in darkness? What does it look like for you to be salt and light in your daily context? Why is it so important for the glory of God to be our only ultimate motivation?
Order Evidenced: Beginning with the Glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Genuine, authentic Christian worship and fellowship gives way to evangelism and missions. Isaiah’s readiness to go where the Lord sends him (Isaiah 6:8), is preceded by a vision of the holiness of God and the display of His glory through the forgiveness of his own sin (Isaiah 6:1-7). Only a changed heart that has come to worship God is able to carry out missions and evangelism for the glory of Christ. Through HIs own experience of God’s gory and mercy in making him clean, he was convinced of the need for the same forgiveness to be extended to others for the glory of God.
The concern for Christ’s name being exalted will affect every area of our lives (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11). When we become convinced that Christ is worthy of all glory and honor, our whole lives will be devoted to making sure He gets it. It is impossible to truly worship God while not caring whether or not anyone else worships Him. In fact, worship that does not produce mission (either globally or locally) is hypocrisy. The gospel is not primarily about us, but about Him, the one deserving of praise from all people everywhere.
– What would you say is the reason for a lack of longing for missions and evangelism in your own life? Are you daily stirring up worship for God through the Word and prayer? Are you being diligent to seek worship-inspiring fellowship with other Christians? What practical steps could you take this week to grow in your worship and admiration for your God and Savior?
Order and Connection: The Church is Sent (John 17:18; 20:21)
God sent the means and the method of the gospel in His Son. Christ, was sent by the Father into the world (John 3:16-17). Jesus then sent His disciples into the world (John 17:18; 20:21). Jesus then sent His Holy Spirit into His disciples, the church (Acts 2:33). The Holy Spirit now sends us out from the church into the world (Acts 13:4). God sent Christ into the world to save His people from His sins, and He now sends His people into the world to proclaim peace, the forgiveness of sins. God has designed that missions and evangelism flow exclusively out of the local church.
– What parallels are there between the Father’s sending of the Son and the Son’s sending of the church into the world? What does this tell us about the church’s mission in the world? Why is it so important to understand evangelism and mission as the whole church’s effort rather than merely an individual Christian’s pursuit (though it requires the effort of individual’s)?