What is your motivation for a deeper involvement in God's mission? A bigger understanding of who God is and what he is trying to accomplish in the world is a good place to start.
Motivation for Mission
God's main intention in human history is to reunite himself with a world that is estranged by sin. All that he is doing in space and time is an effort to further that desire. From the first verses of Genesis to the last verses of Revelation, his intention is articulated and illustrated. The wonder of it all is that he wants to accomplish this mission through the faithfulness of people like you and me.
This human dimension of God's activity in the world is a marvelous thing. Many people have asked why God doesn't just "zap" the world and make it into the world He wants it to be. Though this notion has its appeal, those wishing it misunderstand what God is trying to do.
God has revealed himself as a relational being. At the heart of his redemption process is the re-establishment of a relationship with fallen humanity. When Jesus was on earth, he spent a full three years relating with twelve men in a very personal way (and a host of other men and women in a less focused way). If God zapped humanity into a redeemed relationship, the essence of a loving, personal relationship would be eliminated. This would be counter to God's relational nature. Since the estrangement was due to a broken relationship, the reconciliation process must also be relational, though at times it may appear harder and less efficient.
Thousands have enlisted in this great mission adventure down through the ages. Various motivations, some more noble than others, have been cited for doing so: visions, voices, gratitude, guilt, compulsion, concern or compassion, to name a few. But what is the fundamental biblical motivation for participating in God's strategy in human history?
It should not be surprising that the answer is a relational one. The fundamental biblical motivation for committing ourselves to missions is this—we love God and want to please him in our faithfulness. Our motivation to serve God in missions is further fueled by three factors:
1. Christ sacrificed himself for us on the cross
The first public description of Jesus presented in the Bible is when John the Baptist called out: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This proclamation in many ways sums up what Jesus' mission was all about.
For years, humanity had been relying on the blood of sacrificial lambs to atone for their sins. Countless lambs had been slaughtered. Then God provided the final lamb who would be the perfect sacrifice once for all. The Bible foreshadows this perfect sacrifice in the account where Abraham took his only son Isaac up to Mt. Moriah to be sacrificed. Isaac asked his father: "Dad, there's the altar and wood, but where is the lamb?" His father answered, "Don't worry, son, God himself will provide the lamb."
And God did—with a ram for Abraham and with his own son for all of us. Hebrews 9:26 tells us that Jesus "has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Certainly this provision sheds fresh meaning on that favorite verse: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…" (John 3:16)
When we realize the nature of this sacrifice and its implications, we are compelled to fall at Jesus' feet and worship him. We want to align ourselves with his desires and share this wonderful news with the world!
2. The great global need to hear Christ's message
Having experienced the wonderful redemption God is offering to the world, a heartfelt response is to share it with those who haven't heard. When we realize that there are more than two billion people who have yet to hear the gospel in an understandable way, then the need becomes compelling, even heart-breaking.
We must ask God to give us a heart for the lost; for those who have not yet experienced this redemptive relationship with God. When we more clearly perceive the need in the world, we fully appreciate the wonder of God's salvation. Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, said it best when he wrote, "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."
3. One day the Church will stand before Jesus as his Bride
Keeping our sights on where we are heading as a people helps us stay on the course. We receive hope and encouragement knowing that God will sovereignly bring all things to fulfillment in history.
The final day will be extraordinary. The Bible describes it this way:
For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching beat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
One of the reasons that day will be special is because there will be more people than anyone can count, "from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…" (Revelation 7:9)
Our desire to be involved in God's global mission is spurred by the knowledge that we are part of the means by which God is gathering people to this great celebration. Every nation, tribe, people and language will be represented there because we have said "Yes!" to God's invitation to witness cross-culturally. This is an awesome vision to remember as we go faithfully to testify of his love and grace throughout the world.
Many reasons are cited for involvement in missions today. But only one sustains us in this endeavor of faithfulness—we delight in pleasing our Master. When we see the great magnitude of his sacrifice for us, when we realize the great need of many to hear the message, and when we envision what it will be like one day to stand before him as his Bride, then we will be truly inspired and empowered to serve in his redeeming mission.