When Living on Mission Replaces God

April 5, 2014

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We hear a lot today about Christians filling the church chairs, but not doing much with their faith other than being spectators

“Those lazy, unmotivated Christians, they just sit in the pews!”

What are we saying? Real Christians are on God’s mission, engaging in God’s calling. We quote James of faith without action is dead.

So, we move from one position to another:

“Taking” to “Giving”
“Spectators” to “Participants”
“Consumers” to “Servants

This is good right?

Yes. Please let me be clear. This is good!

But as with all things there can be a subtle danger.

We can move to focusing on God’s mission and lose focus on God himself.

We hear, “Real Christians give their lives to God’s mission!”

Then the question lies in how much mission is enough mission. How much lukewarmness or laziness is too much?

Climb higher? Work harder?

After awhile Christianity begins to look like any other humanitarian organization. What is different from us and the Red Cross or the Red Crescent?

God has a response to life focused on mission.

The Apostle Paul is perhaps the greatest example of a life lived for God and doing it in a sold out manner. Paul is the greatest missionary in history, having suffered shipwrecks and multiple forms of persecution.

The mission was important for Paul, but it was not the core. Paul’s primary focus was God himself.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”   Phillipians 3:8-9  ESV

This passage was written while in prison! Being in prison, on mission paled in comparison to know Christ!

The word translated rubbish here is pretty strong. It’s “skubalon” and it is not what you throw away under your sink! Take a look for more on this. 

Mission can become an idol. In other words, when living on mission replaces God; we have a problem.

Luke 15 details the story of the lost or prodigal son. Often the younger son is called lost. But the older one was lost in religion or mission as much as his sinful brother. 

“All these years I served you!”

Even the older son became lost as he focused on mission rather than on his Father.

An out of balance perspective of life on mission has us as servants created to fulfill a project, who’s value is linked to what we can accomplish and the impact we have on the world.

Again mission is important.
Faith should be accompanied with action.
I like active, participatory believers!

But we are first and foremost called to be sons and daughters. Our mission flows out of this relationship, motivated by love and gratitude.

Much of this post has been inspired by Skye Jethani’s book, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God. This is a fantastic, thought-provoking book I recommend to all. 

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God