Missions can be wild. It can be beautiful and weird and unexpected. When you travel, you will see some incredible stuff. Majestic scenery, interesting food, beautiful people. But it is rarely just that. There will come a point when the shininess will wear off. When you are homesick and stretched beyond your perceived capacity. When you ask yourself “what am I doing here?” And the answer is incredibly important. It’s the difference between a good story to tell people when you get back to the comforts of home, and something life changing.
Because missions is different than just traveling the world for our wanderlust, it’s even different than doing humanitarian aid.
To understand why we do missions, we need to take a step back and see the greater story:
In the beginning, God.
There was a Being outside of our space and time, that took a dream of His heart and spoke it into existence. He took some clay, and breathed His very spirit into it. He loved this creation. He loved them as His children with the fierceness of a mama bear. But an evil who nursed an ancient grudge broke into their garden, where he had no right to be. This was his great talent: speaking lies. He had these two people convinced that they could know better, that God did not really love them as much as He said He did. They crossed over to the forbidden. In this one moment, perfection was shattered into a thousand pieces. You see, now that they knew what wrong was, they discovered they liked it.
One drop of poison debased the truth. Trust was crippled as this untruth worked itself deep into their thoughts and motivations: God did not love them and they could do it better.
Humanity was left searching and scrabbling in the dark for answers. Deformed and fractured, a mere shadow of our original identity. Deep down we know, this is not how it was meant to be. Thousands upon thousands of years grinded on as we stumbled on smashing dignity in our wake. And yet…
God had not given up.
He pursued over and over again. He rescued in spectacular acts of power. He faithfully and quietly worked in the shadows. His family was separated but He kept finding ways to be with them in some capacity. However our thoughts followed the now familiar road to depravity because we knew no other reality, we had forgotten it long ago. Humanity failed again and again and again. They were addicted to power and pleasure, forgetting the kindness and grace extended by God.
And finally God said “Enough! I can’t take it anymore. If they can’t find the way home, I will go and show them the way.”
And God himself steps into the picture. Jesus showed us who God is and what God was like.
And who was God?
He healed the sick
He hung out with kids
He washed feet
He brought freedom to those bound up
He fed the hungry
He looked with compassion
He destroyed religion
He erased the lies
He got into our mess and offered grace and truth, redemption and wholeness for what we had smashed. Jesus peeled back the heart of God and showed us that it was beating with love.
Jesus gave everything for the sake of love, and He calls us to do the same. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25. He says “you want to know what I am like, how to follow me? Trade places with the man on death row and give your life for the sake of another, for what good will your own life do for you? It’s when you give it that you find it”.
Right before Jesus went to the cross and showed us how serious He took His own words, He shared why He was going. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am!” John 17:24. He was looking forward to the day that was glimpsed in Revelation 7:9, where an uncountable multitude from every tribe, nation and tongue would be with Him. The family would be brought back together.
All of history was this great tapestry of love. This is the reckless, wild, faithful love of God!
And I have been seized by the power of this great affection.
My life has been utterly transformed by God. That I am seen, beloved, chosen. God is not a feeling, but He is hope. He is not a quick fix, but He is the answer. When I see who God really is, I can’t help but be filled with love. I want to partner with His dream.
What was His dream?
That we would be with Him.
Listen, I am going to die. You are going to die. This time here and now is finite. But what I do here and now matters. There is a world desperate to know there is hope.
This is why we go.
This is why we leave our securities behind
This is why we live on less, but find joy in more
This is why we love
It’s not only something we do, it’s who we are. It’s bigger than me.
Missions is an overflow of an inward reality of loving this man that gave everything.
So how can we not give everything in response?
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