There is a lot of debate about the various ways believers interpret “missions” and “missional”. There’s the traditional view from the “establishment” church crowd. There’s the “cutting edge” view from the “we don’t like the church” crowd. There’s the mission is what you are and not what you do group. Some see “missions” as what you do somewhere else…but not at home. Some see mission as service rather than proclamation…
Rather than trying to deal with the various theories and debates surrounding the topic of mission today, I want to take a few posts and simply think about some foundational reasons for why being on mission is so hugely important for real believers.
While the Bible makes no attempt to define what the word “Christian” means, it thoroughly describes what a “disciple” is. People who say they believe in Jesus are clearly called to become His disciples. That is, they should trust Him, embrace His teachings, and follow in His steps. We are to actually become like Jesus.
And one thing is without question: Jesus was ALWAYS on mission.
It therefore becomes obvious that if we are truly following Jesus…that we will increasingly be on mission.
Our English word, “mission”, comes from the Latin, mittere, meaning “to send”. A quick look at several examples from Jesus’ life will reveal that He clearly understood that He was a “sent one”.
Luke 2:49 “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
These are the words of a 12-year-old Jesus. He had been missing for four days! His mother was frantic. She finds him at the Temple interacting with the professors of the Scriptures, and asks Him what in the world He was doing! He was surprised she didn’t know. But the amazing thing is this awareness that He had a mission from His Father. He was compelled to be about that business.
Mark 1:38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Jesus is now 30 years old. He has just begun His public ministry. Some people are already feeling that there is something very much different about this Rabbi. But instead of settling down and building a bigger and bigger crowd, He seems compelled to continue to go to other places. He was a sent on mission.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
This is perhaps one of the most succinct personal “mission” statements that Jesus made. What was His purpose? Why did He come to earth? Very simply: He came to seek and to save that which was lost.
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
After His death and resurrection He made it very clear to His disciples. Just as He had been on mission, they were to be on mission. A disciple should become like her master. Jesus was a “sent one”. His disciples will also be “sent ones.”
Matt 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is the famous passage often referred to as the Great Commission. It begins with the word that seemed to be so important to Jesus’ purposes: “Go!” This mission (or co-mission) is as big as the world. It is in effect until every nation, tribe, and tongue is discipled….all the way until the end of this age.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus last words, just before He ascended to the Father, are incredibly hopeful and faith-building. You will notice that Acts 1:8 contains no obvious commandments. Instead it is a great prophecy! The commandments of Matthew 28:19-20 (“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”) are only accomplishable with power from on High! Jesus is utterly confident in the missional Spirit sent from heaven.
In summary, stated simply, anyone who is a disciple will be like his Master. Jesus was a missionary everywhere. The Holy Spirit makes you a witness to the Person and work of Christ…in increasing and expanding measure.
Being on mission immensely matters…as it is a litmus test of genuine discipleship and Spirit-filled living.
As a man of God spoke many years ago at my ordination, “If you ever take the “go” out of the “gospel”, all you’ll have left is a “spel”. Missionless Christianity is just tradition mixed with superstition.
Stay tuned. Next time we’ll look at another reason why being on mission matters.