For The Sake of the Mission
Last month I was asked to speak at a funeral service in Indiana. It was a different environment from what I am used to in my home in South Georgia. I guess most places in the US are more secular than South Georgia. As I rode to the cemetery in the hearse and talked with the funeral director he shared with me how fewer and fewer funerals had a spiritual or religious side to them. He said it had been a while since he had someone open the Bible and read from it as I had done at that funeral. As we talked he asked me what made me want to go into full-time ministry. This is a question I had not been asked in a while. My answer has usually been along the lines of “I could not think of a better way to invest my life.” As I told him about my decision to study theology it became even clearer in my mind that this journey began because of the sense I had of the importance of the mission. In other words, I felt, and continue to feel, that people need Jesus and that a closer walk with Him is beneficial to everyone in the world.
Many of you may already know this, but I am an immigrant here in the United States. I was born in Brazil and did not come to the United States until I was about to turn 13 years old. Transitioning to a different country, language, culture, etc. was very challenging and the church I attended played a vital role in my life as I figured out who I was. As a teenager, I was figuring out who I was since I was no longer a child, and that can be challenging enough by itself, not to mention my identity as a Brazilian living in the United States, and as a Christian. I lived near Boston at that time and being a Christian in the northeast is very different than being a Christian in the southeast.
My father is a pastor and I witnessed him lead the church to mission, I witnessed lives being transformed, families coming together in love, I participated in outreach to the community and service projects. As I got older I helped teach and mentor younger kids. Things were not perfect. Some would cause trouble, leave the church, get divorced, or behave in abusive ways, people were still people. But overall, I could tell that our church made a difference in the lives of the people in that community. I witnessed the second generation, my generation, graduating from college, avoiding gangs, getting married and staying married. I witnessed a change in values and behavior for the better.
When I was in high school I felt the need for more of that. I realized that communities needed churches and that people needed Jesus. I was already involved in ministry and I wanted to do more, I wanted to help others, I wanted to make a difference in the world. So I decided to study theology and God has continued to guide me since then.
So the short answer for why I am a full-time minister, a church pastor, an active Christian, is that I really believe in the mission Jesus gave us. I am here for the sake of the mission.
Having a clear mission yields several benefits.
The main benefit of having a mission is that it gives you focus. You don’t have to wonder around aimlessly when you know your mission. You may wonder regarding the best way to accomplish your mission, but even that wondering is already more focused than being completely directionless.
2 Optimum Use of Resources
Another benefit of having a mission is noticed regarding the use of your resources. You work and you make money, what is the best way to use that money? You have 24 hours each day, what is the best use of your time? Your health, your mind, your abilities, the skills you have picked up, in sum, all that you have, all your resources, what is the best use for them?
Without a clear mission, you can end up chasing a career because of how much money you will make, then using that money to buy things your friends seem to value. Living like that gets you a house full of things that are not necessarily useful, debt, and a job that you dread going to every day.
Having a mission gives you a clear purpose for your work/career, your money, your possessions, your time, your abilities and talents.
3 Peace of Mind
Awareness of your mission can give you peace of mind. When you know you are doing things that contribute to the mission your mind can be at ease. You know you are on track.
4 Clarity to Decision Making
Clarity in decision making is closely linked to peace of mind. In life, there are so many options that decision making becomes a daunting task. What should you pursue, what should you say “yes” to, what should you say “no” to? Knowing what you are trying to do means that you can now ask: “does this activity contribute to my mission?”
5 More Freedom of Thought
Having a mission can help release your creative energies so you can focus on how to accomplish it. You’ll start to look for ways to make it happen.
Jesus gave us our mission.
We are called to be co-laborers with Jesus in the work of saving the world. You read that right, the entire world!
The task is daunting and more than we could ever accomplish on our own. The good news is that when Christ gave us our mission He made full provision for the execution of the work, and took upon Himself the responsibility for its success. So long as we obey His word, and work in connection with Him, we cannot fail. We are to go to all nations, to the farthest parts of the habitable globe, but know that Jesus’ presence will be there. We can work in faith and confidence, for the time will never come when God will forsake us.
Right now, you are fully equipped to reach someone and bring that person one step closer to Jesus. You can do this because God calls you and enables you and it is His will that you do this. As you go about your Father’s business He will continue to use you and equip you to do more and more for Him. But you have to start now, where you are. If you wait, you will be waiting forever.
Jesus did not only give us a mission, He guarantees our success, as we do what He has called us to do.
Jesus’ commission to the disciples included all the believers. It includes all believers in Christ to the end of time. It is a fatal mistake to suppose that the work of saving souls depends alone on the ordained minister. All who receive the good news are responsible for sharing it with those around them. All who receive the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men and women. It was for this work that the church was established, and all who take upon themselves its sacred vows are thereby pledged to be co-workers with Christ. (The Desire of Ages page 822)
It is vital to notice that it is in doing Christ's work that we have the promise of His presence. Go make disciples of all the nations, He said; “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV) Accepting the mission is one of the first conditions of receiving His power.
The very life of the church depends upon her faithfulness in fulfilling the Lord's commission. To neglect this work is surely to invite spiritual feebleness and decay. Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim.
- The Desire of Ages p.825
It’s not a question of whether or not God has called you to ministry, but rather what type of ministry has God called you to. God has called you to make disciples, the question is only how are you to use the gifts and resources He has given you to do it.
As Christians, we are aware that divine love has been stirred to its unfathomable depths for the sake of us humans. Imagine the angels shocked to behold in us, the recipients of so great love, a mere surface gratitude. The angels of heaven must marvel at our shallow appreciation of the love of God. Heavenly beings stand indignant at the neglect shown to the souls of men and women. Do you wonder how Jesus feels regarding our lack of interest in the salvation of those around us?
“How would a father and mother feel, did they know that their child, lost in the cold and the snow, had been passed by, and left to perish, by those who might have saved it? Would they not be terribly grieved, wildly indignant? Would they not denounce those murderers with wrath hot as their tears, intense as their love? The sufferings of every man are the sufferings of God's child, and those who reach out no helping hand to their perishing fellow beings provoke His righteous anger. This is the wrath of the Lamb. To those who claim fellowship with Christ, yet have been indifferent to the needs of their fellow men, He will declare in the great Judgment day, “‘I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” Luke 13:27. (The Desire of Ages p.825 bold mine)
The mission is an issue of salvation, yours and that of those around you.