Recovering the Missional Passion of the Church
In order for the church to recover its missional passion, we must reclaim our lost sense of the awesome, overarching glory of God’s mission. Most Christians do not deny the orthodox doctrines of Scripture. We grasp the fact that God has revealed himself to us as Lord and King. But to borrow the words of author David Wells, the modern church has been “caged” by a diminishing of who God really is.
We have turned to a God we can use rather than a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our need rather than a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us, for our satisfaction– not because we have learned to think of Him in this way through Christ but because we have learned to think of Him this way through the marketplace. Everything is for us, for our pleasure, for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well.
We have shrunk God down to our size. We have limited the scope of His mission in our minds. We have unwittingly bought into the idea that progress is more important than redemption.
And this is chiefly why our zeal for evangelism and the gospel has been undermined– not because we don’t care, not because we don’t know what to do. We have simply replaced God’s purpose for the world with our own purpose for the world. Even when we serve and help and give and share, we too often do it from a sense of obligation or a desire to impress. We have become a church steered by many different motivations but all too rarely by a singular desire to glorify God. Wells is right: “We will not be able to recover the vision and understanding of God’s grandeur until we recover an understanding of ourselves as creatures who have been made to know such grandeur.”
The message that emanates from the life and work of the apostle Paul, who was without argument the most productive missionary in the history of the church, is that we cannot hope to be either faithful or effective in kingdom service while being overly concerned about our own needs.
If we are not on this mission, then we must ask ourselves what we’re doing here. Are we just working to make the church a more acceptable place to our friends and neighbors? Are we looking for a nice place to socialize on Wednesday nights? Are we turning spiritual cranks and pulleys because we think the church is supposed to do those things, because we feel better about ourselves when we do them?
The only thing that really matters is this: our God has a mission. That’s why He sent Jesus here on subversive terms. And that’s why He established the church– churches like yours and churches like mine– to join Him on mission to reestablish His glory over all creation.
Through the gospel those individuals who are “bound” in spiritual darkness can be “loosed” from what has held them captive– redeemed from their slavery. God’s plan for overthrowing the devil’s dominion, freeing its hostages, and advancing Christ’s kingdom is for the church to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in both word and deed. That’s how He pursues His plan of bringing all creation under His authority and deriving glory for Himself in the process.
May this be the purpose behind all our subversion.
When we grasp the enormity of this calling and our role within it, we will begin trusting the Spirit to empower us to engage the lost, serve the hurting, and live “sent lives” as Christian believers united in kingdom purpose. We will live out the difference that Jesus makes in our hearts not because people expect it but because it shows what our God can accomplish. We will talk with others about the power of the gospel not just because they’re lost but because our Lord and King is glorified in finding them.
Begin your plan of action there, and get ready to see what happens around you when God starts making progress.