Mission exists because God exists. God created the world to make Himself known and to manifest His goodness throughout all the earth. His mission is to be known as the Lord of His creation. His missional plan involves us.
At the center of God’s plan for creation is humanity. His plan is to fill the whole world with image bearers who know and love Him. A calling to be fruitful, to multiply and to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:28) is a calling to participate with God to fulfill His purposes for creation. We were made to know God and to make Him known throughout the whole earth.
God’s purpose was challenged by the fall of humanity into sin. He continued His mission by calling Israel to be a chosen people and blessing to the nations (Gen 12:1-3; Exod 19:1-6). The redemptive mission that God began in Israel was ultimately accomplished through the sending of his Son into the world. It is through Jesus that God is known and worshipped throughout creation.
This redemptive mission extends to the Church. “As the Father sent me,” said Jesus, “I also send you” (John 20:21). For the Church to be committed to this calling, it must desire the fulfillment of God’s mission. This cannot happen unless the Church is struck by the privilege of participating in God’s great mission, and it is in awe by the privilege that we were created to know Him and to make Him known.
If we align with God’s mission, God will sustain the mission of the Church, for it is God Himself who empowers the Church through His Spirit (Acts 1:8). Jesus Himself said, “I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:18-19), and “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
How can we align our hearts and minds with the mission of God?
Be directed by the mission of God
Great Commission people live directed by God’s mission. God’s purpose is to be known as the Lord over His creation. This was God’s purpose in creation, and it is still His purpose in redemption. He accomplishes this mission ultimately in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 8:19, 14:6-7). When Jesus sends His disciples to live on mission in Matthew 28, He announces that He is Lord over everything. His disciples are to expand His Lordship.
Live a life that is shaped by the mission of God
God’s mission establishes a Kingdom where He is known as Lord and praised. The people of God are a Kingdom people, who dwell with God through His Spirit and enjoy His blessings. The blessings of God for His people may be characterized with three biblical words: faith, hope and love. Faith believes the redemptive promises of God. Hope holds onto the eschatological promises of God. Love shares God’s redemption with the world, seeking to embody God’s gracious reign and share His Kingdom with others.
Be sent on the mission of God
The mission of God is to make Himself known. The way that He makes Himself known is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ to forgive and transform sinners through His death on the cross (John 14:6). This gospel message must be verbally shared in order for people to hear it (Romans 10:14). The church is sent into the world by their Savior with an evangelistic calling – to proclaim that the God of all creation has mercifully made Himself known in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that there is forgiveness of sins and transforming grace available to all who enter His Kingdom through repentance and faith.
Mission exists because God exists. When we go, we go on His mission.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Keith Whitfield is a professor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and lay pastor at Imago Dei in Raleigh.)