Missions is 100% about glorifying God, not about saving souls. God saves souls, not missions. Everything we do, is about the glory of God. Worship, Community, Mission, it is about God. He is worthy and all the heavens and earth were made to glorify Him. It is the reason we have been created. ( Isaiah 43:7 ) It is the reason we are to do anything. ( 1 Corinthians 10:31 )
The Word of God, the book by which we are to draw closer and understand Him, brings Him glory for the purposes of bringing us closer to Him for His glory, for the purposes of us bringing Him glory. The central theme of our existence is bringing God glory.
One of the most talked about books of modern missions is John Piper’s “Let the Nations Be Glad”
As much respect and love I have for Mr. Piper and His writings, I’ll take his statement one further. Mission exists not because worship doesn’t, it exists because God loves to glorify Himself through the telling and sharing of Himself. Indeed, I believe that there is a good chance, missions, in one form or another will exist in heaven. I can imagine heaven will be filled with us going to one another and telling of God’s great victories, the gospel, and His fame! We need to take a step back and realize that missions isn’t about the lost. It’s about God. Again, the emphasis of this is life changing. Missions is not about men, people, you, me, human beings, life itself, or even souls lost or found. Missions is centrally, about the fame and honor and claim that God lays on His own renown. God stresses this so much so, that in the book of Ezekial he says over 70 times “You will know that I am the LORD.” God wants His name known.
Indeed, this viewpoint, that missions is an act of glory as much as worship, indeed being worship itself, must infect us from mind to soul. And when the realization that missions is 100% about God, and not about men, only then can we get down to the real mission of glorification of the almighty. Indeed, when we know this in our hearts, everything changes. Missions is no longer about numbers. It is no longer about people. It is no longer about a more thought out and intelligent strategy or plan that we devise. The measure of success lays simply, yet powerfully, in the glorification of God. God made missions to not only spread His renown, but to increase the power, boldness, and brilliance of His renown, God Himself brings this about. Missions is no longer about passing out Bibles, tracts, relationships, and so on, even how ‘good’ they may be. Missions is about how to bring about the most powerful and glory-filled expression to God.
So how does this change us? How does this change the way we think, the way our church thinks, and the way all of us do missions, for indeed everything should change! Immediately we need to realize the salvation of the lost is not the primary goal, glory is. If this statement bothers you, then the understanding that missions is for the soul purpose of God’s glory hasn’t hit the depths of your soul yet. When we understand and believe this, how we conceive mission changes. It’s not about strategy, numbers, unreached peoples, C1-C6 scales, 10/40 Windows, or any ‘man-based’ thinking. All of these man-made schemes will be replaced by ‘God-centric’ thinking. Only once the God-centric thinking has permeated our thoughts and soul can we truly engage the world around us in a meaningful way that brings about God’s glory. Then and only then as people endowed with the responsibility and privilege of bringing glory and honor and praise and renown to the throne of God, do we engage others in a God-centric glorifying way, and sharing His renown amongst them.
Only once we intentionally, daily, hourly, minute by minute and second by second guide all of our decisions by a God-centric worldview can we then look at missions anew and realize how far we have gone from the heart of God for mission.
Does God care about the lost? Of course! But even the way He cares, and loves, and brings about salvation shows His love for His own glory! God’s ultimate goal is His Glory. He brings that about through you, me, the saved, the lost, nature, and all of creation. Yes, indeed, all of creation sings glory to the Lord God almighty!
Biblical missiology is all about considering how the Bible reflects on current missiology, and how to call it back to the heart of God. Sadly the definition of missions for so many people is less about glorifying God, and more about getting a message out, getting numbers to respond, and letting supporters know about this. So many modernist mission strategies sway the masses of churches to do this and to do that. Try this and to try that. Yet the heart of God is calling us to stop, remember our first love, and to reflect on His ultimate purpose, bringing Himself glorify. Then, and only then out of the glory purposes do glory driven strategies arise. I dare say, and the cry of my heart hurts at this thought, that God, is not pleased by the way we have done missions. However good, and well motivated our actions are. They are not a sweet aroma to Him. We have lost our first love, and been caught up in the business of missions, and lost the spirit that guides it.
We so often do things, and say, and perhaps even deceive ourselves in believing that our motivations and actions are the will of God. That will is bringing Himself glory through all of creation. We say that we do amazing things in the ‘Name of Jesus’, but our heart’s motivations betray us, and tell a different story. Do we not instead more often than not covet the applause of men? Do we not seek the approval of our supporters, congregations, friends, churches, and neighbors saying how such a good person we are. Indeed, Jesus Himself says, that we may say we did these things in His Name, but in truth we did not, and He never knew us.
Let us swear, and plead, and pray that as a church, we will not create inventions to glorify any man or invention of man, but will rest in the call of glorifying God, and in every situation, not pander to our worldview or even to others, but to take every chance to bring about the most ultimate fame and honor and glory for the One and only who deserves every second of glory we can worship Him with. When that time comes, we will no longer have arguments on the theology of man-centric strategies, but rather they will fade away and we will be working to out do one another in boldness in proclaiming without shame the fame and name and renown of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As the body of Christ, all of us need to evaluate our strategies, ministries, and our lifestyles. Were they created to reach men, or to glorify God. Let us not deceive ourselves, so that we do not repent. No one can deceive God, and He perceives our motivations. Let us repent, turn, and reach out to the world to glorify God, and let God handle the numbers of salvations.
Article originally published by Biblical Missiology in 2010. In order to make this site more interactive, please leave your thoughts in comments!