We live in a time where unprecedented humanitarian crises are plaguing many nations. Poverty, starvation, oppression, violence fills the earth at an increasing rate. The burden is real. The need is great. Social justice campaigns are launched, it seems, every day. Bringing a tangible answer to humanities needs is at the forefront of many missions organizations. And rightfully so. The Church should be the answer with Christ-exalting justice and compassion. Yet, humanities overwhelming need can dangerously become the chief motivation of our labors.
Earlier this year I had a conversation with a local pastor about prayer and missions. He told me that he had recently went on a missions trip in South America with a Christian missions group from America. As part of their mercy relief efforts, they poured their time, energy, and resources into painting the outside the local church that they had partnered with in the area. Upon returning to America, the pastor found out that the next Christian missions group (a different group) came to that same city to work with the same partner church just weeks later. Part of their mercy relief efforts they planned was also to paint the outside of the Church. Upon arrival, they painted over the freshly painted church with a different color. My pastor friend told me, to make matters worse, that this wasn’t the first time this had happened. In addition to this, the pastor explained that the efforts of the Christian missions groups were unintentionally creating an entitlement culture in many of the local people in the region. Many were shunning the Gospel, but looking to what the Christians would bring them from America.
I hesitate to share this story because I’m not advocating abandoning mercy ministry or shutting down relief efforts. Crisis often opens up doors for the Gospel to advance greatly. But it frustrated me. And got me asking questions: What foundation is America building in the nations? If God were to plunder America’s wealth what would be left that the Church has to offer to the nations groping in the dark to find Jesus? If God removed the material blessings from the Church in the West would our spiritual life be exposed as vibrant and burning or as weak and anemic?
IMPORTING FROM HEAVEN. EXPORTING TO NATIONS.
When the lame beggar came asking for alms, Peter had some something better than gold and silver. He had the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling inside of Him. “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.” (Acts 3:6). Only that which Peter imported from heaven, by the grace of God, could he export to the nations or wherever he went. So it is in our day.
The chief desire in God’s heart is not just for humanities needs to be met, but that the nations would sing of His glory and revere His name throughout the earth like that lame beggar who went walking and leaping and praising God. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
Was this not Jesus’ desire in the healing of the ten lepers? “Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Only one turned back to fall on his face at Jesus’ feet and “praise God with a loud voice.” (Luke 17:14-19).
See this desire in Jesus’ affirmation of Mary of Bethany’s act of extravagant worship and rebuke against the accusation of it being a waste: “Leave her alone…truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)
WHY DOES MISSIONS EXIST?
The Gospel is the revelation of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And it demands worship. Jesus hung upon that jagged Cross so that weak and broken humanity might be redeemed to experience this.
“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:9-10)
Missions exists because worship does not. Lifestyles of extravagant worship in spirit and truth unto our Holy God is deafeningly nonexistent in many tribes, tongues, nations and people groups on earth. This is appalling. This is robbery. If God were to be hallowed in the nations forever and ever (and He will be), it would not even come close to what He deserves. “God is great and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 145). The greatest robbery is that the worship of Jesus is absent from cities to villages to mountaintops, while the blasphemy of His great worth and love goes on unhindered by Satan (Rev. 12:10).
Missions exists because that glorifying of the Godhead is absent in places on earth. There were points in human history where missions and evangelism did not exist—prior to the Fall—and there will be a future time when missions will be unnecessary when Jesus establishes His Throne. In that hour the resounding sound of worship will fill the earth, because Jesus will be seen for all that He really is—incomparably beautiful and glorious (Isaiah 4:2).
If this post stirred your heart and you would like to see worship fill the earth and Jesus magnified in a manner like this, consider sowing a donation to help me on a strategic mission trip to impact Mexico by raising up pioneering young leaders who are building worship, prayer and missions across Mexico. I am only in need of $277 to become fully-funded, you can click here to give a tax-deductible donation. If you would like to find out more details of this particular mission, click here.
For His Glory,