Why would anyone want to be a missionary, Part 5
Why would anyone want to be a missionary? I remember being on a mission trip in Cuba when the 70 year old car that me and my wife were riding in broke down (as they tend to do in Cuba). We were coming home from speaking in another town late one night. I think it was one in the morning in between towns, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone or cars. We slept on the concrete risers of a bridge off the side of the road for the night as trucks whizzed by us every 30 minutes or so with their lights off.
I also remember bringing a team of Hong Kong businessmen up to the area where we were stationed as long-term missionaries in Asia. These guys had come up to help us think through and finance a project to be able to serve the community we were living in. Their presence in that area first drew attention, then it drew suspicion. Next thing you know, these businessmen, who had come to love on, sacrifice for, and give money to this effort in our community to help the people there, ended up being arrested (as were I and my wife) and thrown into an interrogation room. It was humiliating to invite these guys from a foreign place, arrange for their travel into this very remote area, only to have them thrown into a holding cell, run out of jail, and run out of town with their tails between their legs. Why would anyone want that? Why would anyone want the humiliation, the anxiety, the suspicion, the loneliness, the awkwardness, the danger of being on the international mission field in areas that we are unfamiliar with? As we discussed in part one of this series, we have not seen the worst of it. The Apostle Paul, by far, had worse treatment than we did.
This is the final installment of a five part series answering the question of why would anyone want to be a missionary. We have given four answers before today, and, in truth, this series could go on for many more weeks. Today’s answer is the most important and significant one. It is, in essence, the summary answer. Why would anyone want to be a missionary? God is worthy.
I do not know what musical worship looks like in the worship services at your church, but let me just read to you a little bit about what worship will look like when we are all gathered around the heavenly throne of God Almighty. “At the end of time, we will join with living creatures, day and night, who never cease to say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him, who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne saying, ‘Worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you, created all things and by your will they existed and were created.’” Then jumping into the next chapter, they sang a new song saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed people for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. And I heard, around the throne, the living creatures and the elders, the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying, without voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them saying to him, “Who sits on the throne?” And to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever. And the living creatures said “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” I could read from so many places in the Bible.
I was just reading in Ephesians 1 which repeats over and over again, “To the praise of his glory, to the praise of his glory.” Psalm 104, “I will sing to the Lord. As long as I live, I will sing. Praise to my God while I have breath.” Matthew 10 says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me”, Jesus said, “is not worthy of me. And whoever loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Romans 14 says, “For it is written as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.” In Deuteronomy it states, “He is your praise, He is your God who has done for you all these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.” Isaiah 12, “And you will say on that day, ‘Give thanks to the Lord. Call upon his name. Make known his deeds among the peoples. Proclaim his name, that His name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord for he has done gloriously. Let this be made known in all the earth. Shout and sing for joy and heaven and of Zion for great. In your midst is the Holy One of Israel.’”
Of course, I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Here is a great passage from Psalm 63, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you, so I will bless you as long as I live in your name. I will lift up my hands.” But let us get down to the real question here which is of all that God created in this world, what does he love the most? Well, we answer this question frequently as we go out onto the mission field with our pro-life message and preach to congregations of people. The answer to the question of all the things that God made and created, what does he love the most? The answer is us: you and me. It is human beings created in his image. Human beings that all have intrinsic, equal, exceptional, and eternal value because we are made in his image. Of all the things that God made, it is human beings and human life that he values the most.
But here is a separate question, a more simplified question: What does God love the most? The answer to that question is: Of all things God loves, cherishes, and values God the most? I think the Scripture that, in my mind, hammers this home in a unique way is Isaiah 48 where God says, “For my namesake, I defer my anger for the sake of my praise. I restrain it for you that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have tried you in the furnace of affliction for my own sake. I do it for my name. Should my glory be profaned? I will not give it to another.” That passage demolishes what a man-centered viewpoint of what life and existence is all about. God’s zealous insistence on the protection of his own name, glory, fame, and reputation is the foundation for our affection for God. God is supreme in his own affections and God’s passion for God precedes and is the foundation for our passion for God.
Why would anybody wanna be a missionary? Because God is worthy and because his name, his glory, his reputation, and the knowledge of his goodness is something that truly matters in this world. He is the Creator, he is good, he is wise, he is loving, he is strong, he is patient, he is long suffering, he is merciful, and he has made every human being on the face of this planet. Because of this fact every human being should glorify and give praise to the God who created them. No one should profane his name. Quite the opposite. Every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that he indeed is God. John Piper said it so eloquently and so famously in his book, Let The Nations Be Glad, which is probably the preeminent missions text in the modern world today. If you have not read this book, read it. If you are not going to read the book then read the first chapter. And if you are not going to read the first chapter then read the first paragraph. This is how he starts the book “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is the mission. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity, but worship abides forever.” There is perhaps no more famous phrase in this book than that one. I just read missions exist because worship doesn’t. Just a couple pages over, we read about the reason why we, as Passion Life, as missionaries, we asChristians should be willing to go to the ends of the earth and tell all peoples about the Lord because he is worthy to be worshiped by all the peoples. Until the people all over the face of the earth are enjoying the glorious worship of Almighty God, we continue to go out, share, and spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God through Christ.
This is how Piper puts it, “All of history is moving toward one great goal. The white hot worship of God and his Son among the peoples of the earth. Missions is not that goal. It is the means. And for that reason, it is the second greatest human activity in the world.” We believe that here at Passion Life. I trust and pray that your overarching passion and goal of your life, brothers and sisters, is to enjoy God in true and glorious worship, and to return grateful praise for all that he has done in your life and in this world for the glory of his name. I trust that you, as a follower of Jesus, are putting serious time, energy, prayer, and intentionality into making his glory known among the peoples of this earth.
For you to engage in missions, the second greatest of all human activities, you must engage in the first greatest which is worship. The second greatest is to make his glory known to the ends of the earth. We, Passion Life, have whittled down our priorities and how we want to invest our lives in this world while God gives us breath. These are the things that we believe matter most:
- the white hot worship of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- making his name and his fame and his glory known among the nations through mission.
- to use as an entry point for the gospel, the defense of innocent human life, which is what God values and prizes above all things in the created order.
We beckon you into this calling with us. Will it benefit us if you pray for us? If you give to us your finances, support us, encourage us, will it benefit us? Absolutely. Will it benefit you? If you pray for us, give to us financially, support our work, and send us out with encouragement in the work, absolutely. Will it bring glory to our almighty? Will it lift up his great name among the nations for us to engage in the work of Passion Life together? May it be. One last scripture, if you will indulge me. My favorite Psalm, Psalm 67, reads this, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us that your salvation may be known on earth. You’re saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, Oh God. Let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy for you. Judge the peoples with equity. You guide the nations upon the earth. Let the peoples praise you, Oh God. Let all the peoples praise you. The Earth has yielded its increase. God, our God shall bless us, God shall bless us. Let all the ends of the earth fear him.” Why would anyone want to be a missionary? Because God is worthy.