And Y’shua came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “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.” Matthew 28:18-20
This is one of the most quoted verses in all of the New Testament. I opine most believers have even participated in some type of “discipleship” course or series revolving around this passage. This passage is referred to as the great commission. What I find interesting in the word commission is the word mission. I believe the above passage is about raising up disciples, but there is a broader picture at play here. Y’shua gave his disciples a mission to carry out. Was that mission for them alone, or do we play a part also?
I want to talk about missions in this piece, and it isn’t because I’m a missionary and would like to do a show and tell. Right out of the gates I’m going to be honest and somewhat harsh. The reason is due to the lack of interest in mission and missions in the commandment-keeping movement. Before I hammer some types, I will say I do know great and awesome people in the commandment-keeping movement who are faithfully serving and being obedient to fulfill missions. The sad reality that I’ve experienced along with other friends of mine in the commandment-keeping movement is a lot of people just don’t care about responsibility and commitment, and they run away from sacrifice. In other words, if it is convenient, comfortable, and fun then no problem. The attitude is thank the Lord I’m not responsible anymore to do anything other than go down my little commandment checklist making sure I get them all checked off for the day because that is what being righteous and spiritual is all about. To be fair, I’m also hearing from Christian buddies that the church’s focus has gradually shifted away from missions over the past decade. Since I threw a grenade earlier, let me see if I can give some reasons that can hopefully help others understand and recognize that missions is a part of your life in some shape, form, or fashion. How would you respond to the following questions? What is mission? What is your mission? What is the mission of the body of Messiah? Those are important questions, and if you struggled to answer then it may be important to look at this missions thing a little deeper. Let’s begin by looking at a couple of areas of mission. The first one is holistic mission. This is an area that I function in a lot while on the mission field. Holistic mission is dealing with the whole of human need, not just the spiritual. Examples would be material and economic help. Now, this approach is an awesome evangelistic tool, but one thing you have to monitor with this approach is it wants to slide in the direction of being solely focused on people and their problems. If our focus is only about me and my problem and you and your problem, then this mission turns therapeutic as we are here only to help you solve your needs. That shouldn’t deter us from meeting others needs, but keep in mind to not create a dependency. Another area is missional church or missional fellowship. This is the idea that your fellowship is missions-focused. The attitude is everything a fellowship is and does should be connected to its mission. The thing that needs to be monitored with this is it can lead to a self-centered approach where the focus is always on individuals in need of a mission.
What I’ve been learning over the past few years is that in order to have a complete missions focus, we must return to the One who is the source of all things. We can come up with great ideas, strategies, and plans for ministry and life. The question is do those things line up with His ideas, strategies, and plans? While I’m here, did the Creator of the Universe, or as my Tico friends call Him El Eterno (The Eternal), have a mission? Yes, He does have a mission!
He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Messiah, things in the heavens and things on the earth. Ephesians 1:9-10
The mission of YHVH from creation to new creation as told throughout Genesis to Revelation is about the Almighty healing, restoring, redeeming, and unifying His creation through Y’shua the Messiah. The wonderful thing with His mission is that it involves ALL of creation and ALL nations, and it’s ALL centered on Y’shua the Messiah. Involving ALL of creation means you and I have a role to play. I like one way John Stott defines mission. He understood mission as being the global outreach of the global people of a global God. That is pretty powerful. Let’s revisit a previous question. What is the mission of the Body of Messiah? You and I have individual and collective roles in the Body of Messiah. What part are you currently playing? This is why it’s important to find your natural and spiritual gifts and use them.
In order to have a complete view of mission, there are several areas or features of missions we need to mention.
3) Works of compassion and love
4) Addressing injustices in society
5) Caring for Creation
Starting out at the top is evangelism, and it comes in all sorts of forms, shapes, and sizes. Evangelism, simply put, is proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. Next is teaching and it involves discipleship, equipping, and training new believers. Works of compassion and love are next and can be referred to as the weightier matters of the law. See Matthew 23:23. Addressing injustices in society and making a difference for the better is next. The ministry of Y’shua was focused on justice and righteousness, and lest we forget, it was His gospel commission to ALL of us. Last but not least, being stewards over creation by upholding life and the integrity of the earth. Adonai has given a purpose to His creation. He has chosen and called into existence a people to participate with Him in the fulfillment of His mission. I don’t know about you, but I want to fulfill my purpose according to His purpose instead of boringly going down a checklist patting myself on the back as I mark off how good I was today.
I would like to encourage you as individuals to take those features I mentioned previously and put them into practice. You will be amazed at how the Creator will work through you. You will be amazed how refreshing it is to actually get out amongst the people where the harvest is at and labor for the God of Israel. Write down ways you can use your gift fulfilling those five features of mission. From paper to practice is ALL He asks of us! Shalom and blessings.