I spent many years “doing missions” for myself. It is hard for me to admit it but if I am honest with myself most of what I did in the area of missions was done out of a desire to please God. I wanted to go and love people in order to make God happy. It wasn’t complicated in my mind. If I do what God says I will please him, and if God is pleased then… I’ll be happy? He will love me more? He’ll do great things in my ministry? Ultimately it all came back to myself.
It wasn’t until I wrestled with some deeper questions that I realized that missions is not about pleasing God or making myself feel good. The act of doing missions should not be an obligation (I chose to be a Christian, now I need to love people all over the world as my duty) but rather a response. Missions is not about me doing something for God but God doing something in and through me. God doesn’t need me to “do” anything. He sent Jesus to reconcile the world by himself. (Col. 1:20) He didn’t wait for me, or any of us for that matter, to accomplish his task of redeeming what was lost. He doesn’t need humans to accomplish that. (Good thing!)
Our tendency is to want to do more for God. (fill in the blank with whatever that looks like for you). We “do” as if that is what God is after. However, I don’t think God is looking for us to “do” more for him. I think he is simply looking for more of us.
I believe at the heart and core of missions is God’s love. I was lost and dead in my sin and Jesus came. (Eph. 2:1-5) His mission was and is, full of grace and mercy and love. Love is the very essence of who God is. Receive it, embrace it, capture and seize it, and allow it to define you.
So where does missions fit in? God’s love compels us into missions. Missions is birthed out of our pursuit of a holy and just God. Our heart becomes overwhelmed with the recognition of God’s love and it overflows to our neighbor. Simply put, missions overflows from a heart in love with Jesus. And from that exudes a desire to love the things that God loves. People.
As I said above, God doesn’t need us to accomplish his task, he merely has chosen to invite us to join him. He simply wants us to love him and through that love we will be compelled to join him in the journey of loving others for His glory.
Letting go of my selfish desires and serving with God’s motives will never be done perfectly. But it is the journey I find myself on. Not to please God or try to earn more of his love, but just to simply give him all of myself. I believe God’s meets us in our pursuit and in that process teaches us to love others as he loves us. God’s compelling love, I believe, is the heartbeat of missions.