Some of the most familiar passages in our Bibles tell the story of our Missionary God.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Many of us have heard these words for decades: God sends Jesus into the world on a mission. And that mission was prompted by God’s love for the world. Love was His motivation for the mission; love is what compelled God to send Jesus into the world in the first place. Even more, the mission is a demonstration of God’s love. 1 John 3:16, This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. As we’ve said for weeks now, God can’t love us anymore than when He offered up His own Son on our account.
So we are to understand the mission of Jesus as a mission of love. Jesus clarifies the nature of His mission in Luke 19:10, The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost. Lost people? Well, yes. But there’s something else that was lost: connection with God, communion with God. This is what Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden before the Fall, before sin entered into the world. And Jesus seeks to save and redeem and restore that which was lost – our connection to God.
John 13 says that Jesus showed the disciples the full extent of his love (13:1) by washing their feet and dying on the cross. The love of Jesus is a sacrificial, serving kind of love. The love of Jesus is a love that seeks and saves, serves and sacrifices.
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus left his disciples with a mission. And this mission is recorded in two places in the NT:
Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
We refer to this passage as “The Great Commission.” Jesus is commissioning His disciples to participate in His mission. Even though the work of His atoning death and victorious resurrection are complete, Jesus drafts His followers to continue the work of making disciples. The church continues the mission of Jesus to seek and save, to serve and sacrifice. We call others to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And we call others to live faithfully to the teachings of Jesus as we seek to be faithful ourselves.
This mission is also recorded in the book of Acts.
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This passage serves as an outline of the book of Acts. Jesus calls His followers to bear witness first in Jerusalem and then in Judea and Samaria, culminating in a witness that reaches the ends of the earth.
- Because of His love, our Missionary God sends His Son into the world.
- Jesus says He came to seek and save that which was lost and He accomplishes this through sacrificial service on the cross.
- And before He left, Jesus calls His followers to participate in His ongoing mission.
So the mission of the church today is to make disciples, to seek and save that which is lost by living sacrificially as Christ’s servants. But our motivation for this is key. We are to do this out of love.
At this point, we would do well to remember our calling as Christians: we seek to follow Jesus, love God, and love others. As people who follow Jesus, we’re striving to be faithful to the two most important commands He left us: love God and love our neighbors.
Or, to put it another way, love is our mission.