Where does mission begin? Does it begin on the day of Pentecost? Or does it begin on a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus commissioned the Eleven? Or perhaps much earlier, even as God called out to fallen Man in the Garden, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
For me, the beginning of mission is not found in time, but in a place – the heart of God. Mission begins with the beating of God’s heart, because it is who God is. Even as God is Love, and Mercy, and Justice, and Compassion, and Faithfulness, and Truth – just so, God is also Mission. God’s desire is for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, NASV). Mission is a part of God’s being – He cannot do other than to desire the salvation of all, because His nature is to save. Mission begins with the beginning of God.
In His mercy and wisdom, God has called His children to participate in His mission. The mission is never ours – it belongs to God alone, for “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”(Revelation 7:10) The power is not ours. The result is not ours. What is ours is the treasure of the Gospel – the Good News that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15) What is ours is the promise of God – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) What is ours is the mystery of God – the water of Baptism which “now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) and the bread and wine of Holy Communion, “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
What is also ours is the cross of Christ, which stands at the center of God’s mission. God’s desire to gather all unto Him leads to His own death and resurrection. Through death, God brings life. As God draws us into His mission, He invites us to die. We die to our desires, so that God’s desire can be fulfilled. We die to sin, so that we may live to God. We die to ourselves, so that Christ may be manifested through us to others.
In Christ, we who were dead are raised with Him to new life! Raised from death to life through the waters of Baptism (cf. Romans 6:4), we are brought into God’s family. We “once were not a people, but now (we) are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:10, NASV) – the Church. God has chosen the Church to be His dwelling place among the nations. Like Israel of old, we have passed through the waters of Baptism and have emerged with the identity of God’s own possession. We belong to God.
(NOTE: “The Reason” is an excerpt from the author’s book, Meeting Ananias. pp. 21 – 25. You can order the book from the publisher, Tri-Pillar Publishing, or purchase the e-book here.)