Mission is the activity of God himself. It has its source not in the church but in the very nature of God. Mission is not just an activity or a department of the church. It is an attribute or a character quality of God. God is a missionary God.
[The word “mission” is not used in the Bible. It comes from the word “to send”, which in the Greek language is “missio”]
1. God the Father sent the Son into the world. Jesus was the first missionary.
John 3:16-17. … God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
2. The Son sent the Spirit.
John 16:7. “… It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor (Comforter – the Holy Spirit) will not come to you, but if I go away, I will send him to you.”
3. Together, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit send the church into the world to do the work of mission, spreading the message of good news.
Matthew 10:16. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.
John 20:21. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
4. The Holy Spirit also selects and sends individuals to specific tasks within God’s mission. We are “saved” and “called” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Matthew 9:37-38. Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
When we get involved in mission, we participate in the sending of God. Our mission has no life of it’s own. We simply partner in mission activity, an initiative that comes from God alone.
“It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfil in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.” [Moltmann]
Mission is to be seen as a movement of God to the world; the church is to be viewed as an instrument for that mission. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love. Mission has its origin in the heart of God. This is the deepest source of mission. There is mission because God loves people.
Specific examples of God’s mission activity (the book of Acts is really the missionary “acts of the Holy Spirit”, often through people):
1. Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). God sends Philip to a place where he becomes instrumental in bringing understanding to an influential man who is already spiritual hungry.
2. Saul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-19). Jesus himself appears to Paul to save him and to call him to the work of mission (specific target: Gentiles).
3. Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48). Here is an good man who has not heard of Jesus Christ. God appears to him in a dream and tells him to send for Peter. The very next day, God gives Peter a vision preparing him to preach the gospel to Cornelius and his household.
4. Lydia (Acts 16:11-15). This businesswoman believed in God and followed the teachings of Scripture. God now causes Paul to cross her path (praying on the Sabbath outside the city at a place of prayer) and she believes the gospel message. As a result many people come to Christ and a significant church is born.
We are here because of mission (what’s your story?) and we exist for mission. There is church because there is mission, not visa versa.
Missio Dei – we get to partner with God’s mission in the world.
God is already at work with mission. We can choose to be involved or not. When we do choose to be involved, we are not starting something new. We are simply joining in with what God is already doing.
Worship is ultimate, not mission. Mission has a short life span – it won’t exist in heaven. Worship alone last forever. However, now the focus and priority is mission because time is short.
Let’s make heaven’s priority our first priority.