- Is it to reach the world with the message of Christ?
- Is it to start churches and train/ordain pastors?
- Is it to work, labor, and put forth effort for the Lord in all things?
While all these things are certainly a part of what we call missions these days, I think that we have allowed the tail to wag the dog in much of this and that we have forgotten the real point of biblical missions:
2 Corinthians 5:12-21 – the point of missions is to reconcile those apart from Christ to Christ!!
Two categories of people in need of reconciliation:
- The Lost – At the end of Jesus visit with Zacchaeus, Jesus said that he was come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:1-10)
- The Languishing – Paul concluded his comments about reconciliation by saying to those in the church at Corinth, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Much of modern missions is about the process rather than about the nature of the results. In Revelation 2:1-7, Christ himself declares his thoughts about the church at Ephesus.
- The church at Ephesus had the process down pat.
- The missing elements at Ephesus were those that comprised the nature of the results of their efforts.
- They had left their first love.
- They had ceased to do the first works.
Modern missions most often reminds me of the church at Ephesus. Hard working, doctrinally sound, suspicious of strange teachings, but without a biblical approach that changes lives at the root level.
- Our “first love” is replaced by duty and a cowering fear of God’s judgment. (Same kind of fearful religion taught by the pagans.
- Our “first works” are replaced by a set of rules established more for the smooth operation of the church than to truly worship the God of heaven and bring glory to him.
In the end, we will only know if our missions efforts are successful if ALL of the great commission is fulfilled. If we are making disciples who know and understand the love of God and his grace bestowed upon them. If these disciples willingly declare their newfound faith through surrender to baptism/church membership. And, if once associated with the church they continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, living for his glory and surrendered to his will!