Published on March 31st, 2018 | by Alyssa
Hold On To God’s Vision for Missions
Dear fellow missionary kids,
We’re on a mission. We have a goal. A task to complete.
Or do we? Many times, it seems as if we aren’t working to achieve this goal. We get bogged down. Forgetful. The enemy uses the troubles of this life to make us lose sight of the prize for which we’re fighting for so hard. We take our eyes off the goal–off the prize.
I must be honest, I have done this so many times. It’s sad. So often, I have forgotten why my family lives away from our original home. I lose sight of what God has called us to do.
However, it is important that we never lose sight of this. We need to remember why we are here. Why we’re not at home with our friends, in places that we love, in places that are familiar.
When we cry at night, wanting so badly to see our loved ones and our hearts ache oh so desperately for home, we need to remember what was so important to uproot our families and make us leave behind almost everything we knew. We need God to refill us with his Spirit so that we might complete the task he has set before us.
So what is this mission we’ve been given? You see, If we don’t even know what our task is, how are we to keep our eyes on it?
The Bible makes our vision very clear in a number of verses. One of the most obvious and commonly used reference is in Matthew.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
According to Matthew, Jesus tells us to do three things: Make disciples, baptize disciples, and teach disciples.
However, before we look at these three things, I’d like to point something out. In verse 18, Jesus says that, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This means what it says–that Jesus has all authority. He is in charge of everything. So when he tells us to do something, we’d better do it.
Now, let’s get back to these things that Jesus commands, keeping in mind that this is what he’s told us to do.
Jesus Commands His Church to Make Disciples.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19a)
We’re commanded to make disciples–to tell others about Jesus. But the verse doesn’t stop there! Jesus didn’t say, “Go make disciples of people that like you.” or “Go make disciples of your neighbors.” Heavens, no. He said “Make disciples of ALL nations.”
In Acts, right before he ascended, Luke records Jesus saying this:
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
So, we’re to be his witnesses, or to make disciples, in Jerusalem (our families, neighborhood, city, etc.), then Judea and Samaria (our home country and state), and then, finally, the ends of the earth.
And ‘all the ends of the earth’ means every tribe and language and people group.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”‘ (Revelation 5:9-10)
My friends, this is the mission of God. This is his heart! Every tribe, language, people, and nation will be worshiping him forever in heaven because of his great love that he has given! This is such a beautiful picture and I anxiously await the day when in heaven we, the Church, will worship him, united together as the Bride of Christ, forever more.
This is what we can’t forget.
We cannot lose this vision! It’s what drives us forward, motivates us when our task seems impossible and we feel like we’re getting nowhere. It’s what keeps us on the field when we want so badly to run back home. It’s the fire of our hearts and the anthem of our souls!
It should be what gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us up late, praying for his kingdom. It’s the aching in our souls as we long and plead for this day to come.
Jesus Commands His Church to Baptize Disciples.
But, that’s just the first part of the verse. We’re not only commanded to tell others about his great love, we’re also told to “[Baptize] them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28: 19b)
I know baptism can be a controversial topic in many Christian circles, so I’m not going to dwell on the ‘how’ but the ‘why’ of baptism. Why do people get baptized?
Well, the simple answer is that Jesus tells us to. And, that is a very important reason. However, there is another reason as well.
Baptism is a statement of faith. When we get baptized, we’re telling the world, “I am a Christ follower! I am saved by Jesus alone, through faith alone, by grace alone! I am a sinner made righteous through Christ’s death and resurrection!”
This indicates that we’re not to stay silent about our faith and we’re not to encourage others to be silent either. Even after we’re baptized, the church needs to be sharing the good news of Jesus so that when Christ comes, there will be people from every tribe and nation worshiping around the throne of God.
How can we share this love and truth that we know? This brings us to our third and last commandment from Matthew 28.
Jesus Commands His Church to Teach Disciples.
“Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20a)
We’re commanded to tell the world about God and (although not directly told in this passage) to encourage others to share this great gift which God has given us.
Which leads us to one more question: What if these people don’t know how? What if they don’t know what Jesus says? How can then follow the rest of what God says?
Yes, they will still be saved if all they ever learn is that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again for their sins and trust Him to save them. But there is so much more that we’re told to do in the Bible. By reading God’s Word, we’re encouraged in our faith and learn much about God.
For everyone who lives on milk [the basic truths of the gospel] is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food [more complex theological truths] is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. ~ Hebrews 5:13-14
How can they know these things if they’re never told?
Yes, God could tell them in dreams and through miracles, but these are not very common in places where Christ’s news has penetrated the darkness.
However, God has asked us to teach others about him. We can do this many ways–including just talking with our friends about God, helping in Sunday School classes, mentoring a younger believer, or even getting together with others to discuss the Bible and grow together.
These are just a few ways we can obey this command. There are many, many more things, but I’ve just scratched the surface.
We’ve seen that, as Christians, we are called to make disciples of all nations, baptize those disciples as well as sharing our faith with the world, and lastly, to teach others the truths from God’s Word.
Wow. God has given us a huge mission. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s what we were created to do. But it’s hard! It’s difficult. A seemingly monstrous task. How are we ever going to get it done? We’re just small, insignificant humans.
Yes! We are small, insignificant humans. There is no way we can complete this task ourselves.
Wait, what? Has God given us an impossible job? By no means! You see, we still haven’t covered the last part of Matthew 28:18-20.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
Jesus is with us, helping us. God didn’t leave us to do this on our own. He asks us to partner with him in his mission. We are not alone. Even though it may seem like we’re fighting this by ourselves, we’re not. The Lord is good and perfect–he wouldn’t give us an impossible task.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
So, with that, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes on the goal that God has set before us, remembering that one day every tribe and language and tongue and nation will gather around the throne of Jesus, praising him.