LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him. This assignment is called your mission. Jesus said, “In the same way that You gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world” (John 17:18, Msg).
God wants you to have both a ministry in the body of Christ and a mission in the world. Your ministry is your service to believers, and your mission is your service to unbelievers. Fulfilling your mission in the world is God’s fifth purpose for your life.
Our English word mission comes from the Latin word for “sending.” Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21, NIV).
Your life mission is both shared and specific. One part of it is a responsibility you share with every other Christian, and the other part is an assignment that is unique to you.
Jesus clearly understood his life mission on earth. At age 12 he said, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and 21 years later, dying on the cross, he said, “It is finished.” Like bookends, these two statements frame a well-lived, purpose-driven life. Jesus completed the mission the Father gave him.
The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission because we are the body of Christ. What he did in his physical body we are to continue as his spiritual body, the church.
What is that mission? Introducing people to God! The Bible says, “Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also” (2 Corinthians 5:18, TEV).
Your mission is a continuation of Jesus’ mission on earth. As his followers, we are to continue what Jesus started. Jesus calls us not only to come to him, but to go for him. Your mission is so significant that Jesus repeated it five times, in five different ways, in five different books of the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).
It is as if he was saying, “I really want you to really get this!” Study these five commissions of Jesus and you will learn the details of your mission on earth — the when, where, why and how.
In the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you” (Matthew 28:19-20, CEV). This commission was given to every follower of Jesus, not to pastors and missionaries alone. This is your commission from Jesus, and it is not optional. These words of Jesus are not the Great Suggestion. If you are a part of God’s family, your mission is mandatory. To ignore it would be disobedience.
You may have been unaware that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers who live around you. The Bible says, “You must warn them so they may live. If you don’t speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But I will hold you responsible for their death” (Ezekiel 3:18, NCV). You are the only Christian some people will ever know, and your mission is to share Jesus with them.
Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them. If your neighbor had cancer or AIDS and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse is to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace and eternal life. We have the greatest news in the world, and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone.
One problem long-term Christians have is that they forget how hopeless it felt to be without Christ. We must remember that no matter how contented or successful people appear to be, without Christ they are hopelessly lost and headed for eternal separation from God. Everybody needs Jesus.
Your mission has eternal significance. It will impact the eternal destiny of other people, so it’s more important than any job, achievement or goal you will reach during your life on earth. The consequences of your mission will last forever; the consequences of your job will not. Nothing else you do will ever matter as much as helping people establish an eternal relationship with God.
This is why we must be urgent about our mission. Jesus said, “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” (John 9:4, NLT).
The clock is ticking down on your life mission, so don’t delay another day. Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We will have all of eternity to celebrate with those we have brought to Jesus, but we only have our lifetime in which to reach them.
This does not mean you should quit your job to become a fulltime evangelist. God wants you to share the good news where you are. As a student, mother, preschool teacher, salesman or manager or whatever you do, you should continually look for people God places in your path with whom you can share the gospel.
Your mission gives your life meaning. William James said, “The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” The truth is, only the Kingdom of God is going to last. Everything else will eventually vanish. That is why we must live purpose-driven lives — lives committed to worship, fellowship, spiritual growth, ministry and fulfilling our mission on earth. The results of these activities will last — forever!
If you fail to fulfill your God-given mission on earth, you will have wasted the life God gave you. There are people on this planet whom only you will be able to reach, because of where you live and what God has made you to be. If just one person will be in heaven because of you, your life will have made a difference for eternity. Start looking around at your personal mission field and pray, “God, who have you put in my life for me to tell about Jesus?”
If you will commit to fulfilling your mission in life no matter what it costs, you will experience the blessing of God in ways that few people ever experience. There is almost nothing God won’t do for the man or woman who is committed to serving the Kingdom of God. Jesus has promised, “God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:33, NLT).
More than 1,500 churches, in all 50 states, are participating in a national pilot of a six-week “40 Days of Purpose” spiritual growth emphasis based on Rick Warren’s latest book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Baptist Press is carrying a column by Rick Warren each Wednesday as a part of the 40-day initiative. For information on participating in the spring 2003 worldwide campaign, information is available upon request from [email protected].