There is a great movie with one of the most haunting images I have ever had burned into my memory as an opening scene that shares the title of our devotion this week. “The Mission” (Robert Dinero is in it) tells the story of Jesuits who have reached into an unreached people with their strategy of establishing a frontier home base for an order of Jesuits to engage the people and preach the Gospel to those who have never heard.
In this scene, a Jesuit is strapped to a cross by the natives and is put into a river that rages toward a massive fall and he is shown floating down the increasingly violent waters until he disappears over the falls to his obvious death.
Although a movie, it depicts a real group of missionaries in Christian history and it likewise depicts the high cost of preaching the Gospel to those who have never heard.
I am reminded of this movie because I have come about as close as a person can come to tasting death for the cause as I can come without actually paying the price. Also, I just returned from a weekend in which a network of like-minded churches that I work with continued crafting our strategy for continued engagement of a group of people who do not have access to the Gospel. On this weekend we also memorialized our friends who have payed that price because Jesus is so very worth it. We lost 2 in 2007 and 10 just this summer. You probably saw the news reports. I have to be vague for obvious reasons. There are bad people who will connect names to churches and organizations and that will get more killed as 0ur fault for folly not for Gospel. So, pardon my being a bit vague.
Why do people do this?
The answer is easy. Joyful obedience. See, the preaching of the Gospel to the nations IS the mission. It’s the common thread running through the entire Bible: the glory of Jesus among all nations from the base of the local church.
Genesis 12:1-3 is the first installment of the Great Commission. Jesus just doesn’t make up the Great Commission as a cool thing to say at the end. He takes it from his word to Abraham a couple of thousand years earlier in redemptive history. See, God promises Abraham that he will bless all the families of the earth with the knowledge of who God is through Abraham’s line (families being the Hebrew equal to the Greek nations. Nations being the word “ethne”. That being a unique ethnic group with its own culture and language.) From the outset, God’s mission is that what he is showing Abraham must go global.
Psalm 67 is a prayer for God to bless for the purpose of making his salvation known to all nations.
Matthew 28:16-20 is the most common passage quoting Jesus giving us the mandate, the mission to make disciples of the nations by going, baptizing and teaching them.
Luke 24:44-47 is one of the most astounding passages in the whole Bible. Jesus appears to a group of his followers gathered after his resurrection. Jesus tells that what the Law, Psalms and the Prophets said about him must be fulfilled. Seriously, Jesus just said that the Old Testament is talking about him. This passage says that Jesus opened their minds to understand this. Guess what? Jesus summarizes this message of the Old Testament in two phrases. Really? The whole Old Testament summarized in two phrases? Yes. “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” The Gospel and the mandate that it be proclaimed among all nations is Jesus’ summary of the whole of the Old Testament.
In other words, the goal is the Gospel gone global from the local church. Jesus is giving the church it’s marching orders.
Our mission: The Gospel to all nations (nations defined as people groups = different ethno linguistic groups of people).
This is not anyone’s job but the church. It is the church’s mission. Our mission must be God’s mission. It’s not an organization’s mission. It’s not a school’s mission. It’s not a government’s mission. It’s the church’s mission. All other organizations related to the church should be assisting the church in completing it’s mission.
How are we doing?
See we here at Unity value the church. It is one of our values. So, we are concerned with equipping our students and families to be doing God’s mission through the avenue of their local church.
How are we doing as the church?
Here is a stat for you. There are 16,567 people groups on the planet. There are 6,838 people groups who have never had access to the Gospel.
Less than 1/10 of 1 percent of funds in the evangelical church in North America goes to the reaching of unreached people groups.
How are we doing?
What if 6,838 churches adopted an unreached people group and began the engagement of that group with the Gospel?
Do you know that house churches in China, Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines are out sending American churches? It’s true. They require less and are more willing to go.
America was once the impetus of the word Christian movement. The days of the “haystack prayer meeting” that mobilized the Adoniram Judson’s of the world are far behind us.
Check out this site: http://joshuaproject.net/index.php
This site will open your eyes to the number of UPG’s and their unique features. It will teach you how to pray for those who have never heard and hopefully mobilize you and your church to GO!
Read the above passages. Meditate on them. These are only a few of multitudes in the Old Testament and the Gospels that point us toward the mission.
Meditate on the mission. Ask what your role is.
We define missions this way:
Missions – the preaching of the Gospel to the unreached people groups of the globe with the goal of establishing an indigenous church that is self-sustaining and multiplying and participating in missions.
How are we doing?
We can affect this from right here in Rome, GA by teaching what the mission is, by teaching about the lives of missionaries who have done the work and have set the pace and by encouraging all bible believing, Gospel proclaiming churches to seek out how they are to be involved.
Some of us are goers. Some of us are senders, but none of us can opt to not participate. It’s THE MISSION.
How are we doing?