What is missions?

The first thing we think about when we hear “missions” is sharing the incredible news of God’s salvation through Christ with those who have yet to hear.  And that certainly is missions. But there is more we can unpack from the “what” of leaving our home to live out our faith in a foreign land.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. John 14:21

We obey the Great Commission out of our love for God. Some may say, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. We are soldiers being sent into battle for love of king and country. I think this could resonate with some but may only scratch the motivational surface for others.

Often our lives are largely predictable and within our control; our stress and anxiety arise when we lack that sense of control whether in relationships, careers, finances, society, etc. Jesus calls us to step out of the boat with Him into the wind and waves, but sadly most of us will never experiencing walking on water because it feels too reckless and unsafe.

That invitation from Jesus is an invitation into deeper, abiding, transforming faith. He so wants this for each of us. Because in order to step out, we need to fully believe what He says is true. That out of His love for us, we will be protected and provided for. (There will be suffering and loss along the way, but His goal is the strengthen of our faith.) We won’t be forgotten or alone. Our lives won’t be wasted; He will use our gifts to their greatest potential. So stepping into situations beyond our control, placing ourselves wholly in His care where all our hope and trust is in Him – that is the ultimate act of lordship. That is where we see God unmistakably reveal Himself and our faith is made complete.

In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5 

Another aspect of missions is Christ-likeness. We might think of being like Christ in His suffering – bearing the trials of our lost comfort, relationships and roles; the hardships, disease, persecution, insecurity and more. But I’m thinking here about being Christ-like in His humility. It is the posture we assume when we consider others more important than ourselves, viewing ourselves with God-given sobriety – that we together with all of humanity are equal at the foot of the cross.

This also speaks to understanding the body of Christ. No culture is superior, no calling is above another, no tradition corners the market on truth. This way of thinking isn’t easy – espousing superiority has birthed division, vitriol and worse… within the church.

If we walk humbly – if we truly seek to walk in the shoes of each other – we walk with Christ. We do as He did; we live the life that He desires us to live.

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Lastly, I want to loop in the idea of acting justly in missions. Being just is when the one with power acts in the best interests of the one who lacks it. We often think of justice ministries as advocating for the marginalized, freeing modern-day slaves and reconciling disparate groups. But Sir Francis Bacon noted, “knowledge is power.” We know that Jesus was just in coming to this earth; that God was just in accepting His sacrifice for our atonement. And if we believe this message, we are just when we share the gospel with those who haven’t had an opportunity to hear. Missions is not good reports home or jewels in our crowns; we are acting in the best interest of those to whom Christ called us. We are acting justly.

So missions is about loving God, believing and trusting in what He has said, becoming Christ-like and living justly. It is a path of discipleship, of deepening our faith and trust in Him. Will you join us in this journey?

Written by David Narita
Written by David Narita

David Narita MD served in Northwest Cambodia with OMF International in church planting, student ministry and medical education. He now is International Facilitator for Healthcare Missions based in the US (which is his home culture.)

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