Why is Mission Needed?
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17
God formed man out of the dust and gave him life. He created us in His image, out of His own will and for His glory.
Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” Isaiah 43:7
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11
These scriptures answer the questions of the ages: Why does man exist? What is our purpose? We exist because it is God’s will and our purpose is to glorify Him. Man typically does not like that answer because it is God-centric, not man-centric. If we believe we exist by God’s will, that means there is some accountability and purpose that may be contrary to what we want. Our flesh wants a man-centric answer, so we reject this view.
God created us to love us and for relationship. He placed man in a garden that was created just for him, with every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good to eat, with the charge to cultivate and keep. There were no weeds, irrigation lines, or pesticides. Man was to enjoy God’s creation and glorify God. It was Eden, and it was perfect.
Work and purpose has always been a part of God’s plan for man. We are to be creative, productive, make life, maintain, and produce because that is His character and we are made in His image.
There were two special trees in the garden, the tree of life that gives eternal life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God said not to eat from. At this point in time, life was perfect without any concept of disease, war, envy, shame, hate, guilt, fear, or jealousy and they walked with God their creator. Adam and Eve had face-to-face, real-time with God. They lived out their purpose and God was glorified and they were satisfied.
In that place, there was no mission because there was worship. They worshiped God with their whole being, and so there was no reason to convey the mission of God to others. Worship means reverence, honor, deference, or to adore, which expresses itself in obedience and praise. But as we all know, something changed. This is not a perfect world; it is a fallen world with fear, guilt, shame, physical illness and hard work. What happened?
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Here the serpent or Satan is introduced, the father of lies and ruler of the world at this time. He has come to kill and destroy; his goal is to rob God of His glory. Consequently, his primary target is man. Satan wants to keep man out of relationship with God through any means necessary.
Satan immediately begins to build a wedge between man and God. He breaks down the trust man had in God by causing us to question the character of God and misrepresenting Him. “Did God really say…?” Satan casts doubt and tells us that God is keeping us from something good.
We struggle with this too. We’re afraid that if we fully give our lives to Jesus, He will make us do something, go somewhere, give up something, or keep us from something we really want. This is a trust issue because we struggle to trust Him and often don’t believe that He has our best in mind. We don’t understand His character and grace, and we can’t even conceive of the love of God. We don’t understand a love that would lay its life down for us.
When we give our lives fully to God, we get Jesus – the point is restoration of relationship! If we are filled with ourselves, how can we experience the fullness of God? We have to give ourselves to Him fully in order to experience Him fully.
Satan came to kill, steal and destroy; to divide our relationship with God. He does this by sowing seeds of doubt. What was the point of the tree in the garden that man could not eat from? The tree was a way for Adam and Eve to demonstrate their love for God. Every time they passed the tree with ripe fruit and did not eat from it was an act of worship. Any act of obedience to God is an act of worship.
Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey me” (John 14:15). Loving God means we honor Him and choose Him over our own desires. In the garden, Adam and Eve began to listen to the voice of the world and regarded their own desires as more important – this was an offense to God.
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
Her temptation on that day is not any different from the temptation we face ourselves:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (good to eat) and the lust of the eyes (pleasant to look at) and the boastful pride of life (make one wise), is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16
At the point that Adam and Eve first sinned, we were relationally separated from the presence of God. A holy, just, loving God, who was worthy of worship, could not stand this act of rebellion. The relationship between man and God changed and mission began. Mission is to get back into right relationship with God and to worship Him as we were designed and created to do.
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19
Immediately things changed in the garden and Adam and Eve hid and covered themselves, trying to make a way to be in the presence of God. They were afraid of God (Genesis 3:7-11). There was no way for man to reconcile his relationship with God; no amount of fig leaves could hide our sinful heart.
But then we begin to see God’s mission of reconciliation unfold as He speaks to the serpent:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15
The bruised heel refers to the crucifixion. The wages of sin is death, but Christ overcame death and crushed or bruised the head of the serpent, referring to complete defeat.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
God made garments of skin, alluding to the first sacrifice for sin because “..without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Adam and Eve were taken out of the Garden, away from the tree of life to live in their fallen state forever.
That is the why of mission. As long as there are people who do not worship Jesus, there will be mission. But on that day when every tongue confesses and every knee bows (Philippians 2:11), mission will cease. Where there is no worship of Jesus, there is mission.
What is Mission?
What does it mean to be on mission? It means to be intentional; to live with a purpose that is aligned with God’s. Living on mission is a broad way of thinking in terms of lifestyle, but is also very specific in terms of behavior. It means that the total sum of our lives belongs to Jesus – we live for Him in all that we do, whether work, school, or play. Our lives should reflect Him to others. Wherever we go or whatever we do, the point is mission. We see this in Jesus’ commandment to His disciples, which is also to us:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19
We need to step out in faith to live on mission. As we proceed, He will lead.
He sent Abram – God sent Abram to a new land; he left behind everything behind (Genesis 12)
He sent Isaiah – Who shall I send? Send Me! (Isaiah 6:8)
He sent Jeremiah – But the LORD said to me,”Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. (Jeremiah 1:7)
He sent His Son – “For God so loved the world He sent his only Son” (John 3:16; Philippians 2)
Mission is to take the Good news, the Gospel of Jesus through word and deed with His grace and love through His power to those who do not believe and have not yet heard.
What is the Gospel?
1. The Gospel is news, a proclamation – Evangelical means good news. We receive and accept the proclamation. The Gospel is the news about Jesus and what He’s accomplished. We’ve all sinned and fallen short, yet God demonstrated His love for us when He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our decision is whether we accept the Gospel or not. There is nothing we can do to earn it. The Bible says if you believe on the name of Jesus, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). The Gospel is all grace, grace, grace!
2. The Gospel is grace, not merit – Grace says: “I obey God because I am already accepted.” Religion says: “I obey so therefore I am accepted.” A lack of deep belief in the Gospel is a major cause for spiritual deadness and pride because we continue to act on, “I obey therefore I am accepted.” For instance, we lie not only to cover up a mistake, but also because we are operating on performance and fear of rejection. We are not saved by believing the Gospel and then working really hard at obedience. We’re saved by the Gospel and we live out the Gospel and grow in Jesus.
3. The Gospel is a reversal of the weak and the strong – Christ wins our salvation through losing; the first are the last; in weakness we are strong; we attain wealth by giving it all away; and those who receive salvation are not the strong and accomplished but the weak and the lost.
When Do We Do Mission?
There is not a certain age or stage in life or level of spiritual maturity required for mission.
Isaiah said he was unclean but God touched his lips (Isaiah 6) Jeremiah said he was but a youth and did not know how to speak, but God said He would put words in his mouth (Jeremiah 1:6). Moses said he could not speak, so God gave him Aaron. David was a young shepherd boy when he was anointed. Mary was a young virgin and did not understand her call but was to carry a child, the son of God. Paul was a Christian killer. Matthew was a dishonest tax collector. The woman who anointed Jesus for burial was a prostitute.
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:38-39
The man was saved for all of ten minutes, and God sent him on mission. He knew nothing about Jesus, except that Jesus saved him. Jesus overcame the torment in his life. His testimony was not about himself but the saving grace of Jesus.
Why don’t we do mission? We don’t do mission out of fear – we have a fear of man, a fear of failing, and we don’t understand grace. We don’t do mission out of a lack of faith – we don’t personally engage with God and we don’t understand His character.
Picture a twenty-foot long white rope with a one-inch red portion. The rope represents life and eternity. The one-inch red portion represents our life in light of eternity. Mission requires us to look at the whole rope. When we look just at the red portion, we’re consumed with fear and anxiety. We fear man. When we look at the entire rope, there is freedom. Mission sees the bigger picture – we exist by God’s will for His glory. The red portion of the rope is just prep for what is to come.
How much time do we invest in eternity, and how much time do we invest in this world? Why do we live on mission? Because worship isn’t happening. Living on mission means sharing what God has done with others because He loves us.