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The Whole Church in Missions

What if missions, like discipleship, is for the Church – the whole Church – to be involved in?

Matthew 28:18-20 records for us:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

If we are not careful, there is a real danger today of disciples of Jesus Christ missing the essence of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 when we separate discipleship from missions. For example, it is often emphasised that “making disciples” is the main imperative instead of the verb “go”. While this assertion is true, discipleship (i.e. the following of Jesus by obeying His commands) inadvertently becomes anaemic when it is distilled and divorced from the context of which Jesus originally commanded His disciples. That context is the scope and breadth for which Jesus’ good news of salvation is intended – all nations (or in Greek, all ethnicities or people groups)! There is a familiar saying: “If Jesus is not the Lord of all, He’s not the Lord at all.” Paraphrased and applied to the context of global missions, it would be: “If Jesus is not the Lord of all nations, He is not the Lord of the whole world at all.

But missions itself suffers from another kind of deficiency when we interpret the Great Commission with the lens of our own individualism and modern culture. The result is that “going to the nations” becomes totally subservient to our mere personal choices, individual preferences or solo engagements. By default, missions easily gets left to a few “spiritual commandos” crazy enough to risk it all for Jesus. This is clearly not what Jesus meant when He commissioned His disciples before His ascension to heaven.

A reading of the Great Commission in its original context will immediately bring out the exact opposite effect. Jesus was speaking to the first prototype of a disciplemaking community, albeit a narrowly-minded one. The Jews were unmistakably the most ethnocentrically exclusive people of their times. A commission for them to bring the gospel to others outside the confines of their own culture and worldview would have gone over their heads (as much as it goes over ours today!).

Yet, in spite of their inability to grasp the cross-cultural dimension of Jesus’ mandate, the Jewish Christians would have at least gotten the Great Commission right in three ways: (1) They did not perceive the Great Commission individually as personal assignments, but together as the singular mission of the whole community. (2) They did not see the Great Commission as a personal option to be deliberated, but a sacred trust to be lived out. (3) They did not view the Great Commission as if it were a personal calling to be further discerned and explored, but the Lord’s clear and urgent mandate to be immediately obeyed.

Ultimately, when it comes to exploring missions as a calling for our own lives, we must first get outside of our own cultural and hermeneutical entrapments (especially our modern way of reading and interpreting Scripture), and go back to the biblical context and framework in which God sets up His story of salvation for the world and calls His Church to join Him in this grand adventure of being His witness to all the nations.

This is of utmost significance for us Christians disciples today. Can you imagine the alternative scenario of church history and world evangelisation today if, right from its inception, missions had been done inextricably and unitedly as one community – the Church?

Written by Dr TSH

Below are some recommended resources to further your understanding of the Church and missions. We encourage you to check them out and pray that you will be blessed by them.

 

SCRIPTURE

Psalm 67

John 13:34-35

John 17:20-26

Acts 2:42-47

Revelation 7:9-10

 

SERMONS

Together in Missions“, by Rev Tony Yeo: https://sermonresources.cefc.org.sg/file/1561

The Purpose of Your Life”, by Francis Chan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtzGtO3pC7c

Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions”, by David Platt: https://t4g.org/resources/david-platt/divine-sovereignty-the-fuel-of-death-defying-missions-2/

 

ARTICLES & VIDEOS

Into All the World: Count Zinzendorf and the Moravian Missionary Movement”, by Winfield Bevins: https://gcdiscipleship.com/article-feed/2013/01/16/into-all-the-world-count-zinzendorf-and-the-moravian-missionary-movement

(This is a short article on one of the worlds’ greatest missionary movements in Protestant history that had its origin in a local church.)

John Piper on “How Does a Missionary Know He is Meant to Go?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj6cI1jIgJg

(This is a 2-minute excerpt from a sermon by John Piper on capturing a sense of the call of missions.)

John Piper on “The Missionary Call”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp6q5PTki8w

(An interview of John Piper regarding the missionary call. Duration: 14 minutes.)

Biblical Basis of Missions / God’s Heart for the Nations”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmtfBZyO_hI

(A short video clip presenting an overview of God’s story. Duration: 6 ½ minutes.)

 

SONGS

Shine – Psalm 67”, by Prayercast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4sAgASKLxE

Days of Elijah”, by Robin Mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9LnzJnpjQ

A City on a Hill”, by The City Harmonic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2kl7tqpnY4

Be Thou My Vision”, by Audrey Assad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Optrm7lF16s

O Lord, You’re Beautiful”, by Keith Green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVgPQm06g2c

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
John 8:12-29; 17:1-8
Thu, 30 June 2022

To Glorify God in the Marketplace

Observation:

What did Jesus mean when He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (v.29)?

Deeper Reflection
THE LORD JESUS HAD A CLEAR PURPOSE IN HIS LIFE AND ministry while on earth. It was to do the Father’s will and accomplish the mission that the Father had given Him. Jesus had a singular focus on, and an unwavering commitment to, His mission. Jesus told people that He was the light of the world − the only way to salvation and eternal life (vv.12, 23-24). He revealed the Father to the people (v.19). He spoke what the Father wanted Him to tell the people (vv.26-28). By keeping mission clear, mission focused and mission true, Jesus brought glory to His Father (Jn 17:1-4). How can we do likewise in our life and ministry as disciples of Jesus Christ?The word “ministry” comes from the Greek word diakonia69, which can also be translated as “service”. Our work in the marketplace is our service to God and to the people whom our work touches. Our work and the interactions with people that it entails are therefore rightly to be considered our marketplace ministry. Christians are during the workweek primarily marketplace ministers, or God’s servants in the marketplace. In all that we do and say, we represent God and serve God. In our interactions with people, we are to (just like Jesus) tell them the Father’s plan of salvation in the Son, reveal the Father and speak the words that the Father wants us to tell them. If we do none of these in the marketplace, we are not mission clear, mission focused and mission true. For Jesus sent His disciples to continue His mission until He returns (Jn 20:21).
69 For example, Ephesians 4:12.
Application:

What must I do now so that at the end of my present life I can also say (like Jesus) to the Father, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do” (Jn 17:4)?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for Outreach/Missions/New Life leaders: To always seek to please and glorify God in their life and ministry
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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