What is Mission?
What is Mission?
By Andrew Rutten
When I think about mission, I often think about businesses or incredibly driven people. Every business has a mission statement that, hopefully, drives the decisions of that business.But then I think that the most driven people also have a clear mission in life. I think of athletes that I have heard say “I was born to play this game”, or musicians that proclaim “Doing this is all I’ve ever wanted”, or a man like Steve Jobs who was so driven by a singular mission that he became iconic.
And yet, I think mission really drives all people. For some, their mission may be grander or more clear. But if you think you aren’t driven by mission, I think you’re mistaken.
If you are in school right now, you have a mission to complete your degree or classes in order to accomplish something in your career later on. That is your mission.
If you are working in a career, you are doing so because you have a certain mission that is driving you; it may be that you want financial success, achievements, or simply that you want to retire someday. Whatever it might be, that is your mission.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may feel like you have no mission, but make no mistake that surviving the day with your kids alive and healthy is quite the mission. It may look different, but some days that is your mission.
Mission drives us. We act with purpose—even if that purpose is to be chaotic and sporadic. A mission is behind all of us.
At Providence, we want to harness that truth and place us as a people on the ultimate mission. To do that, we must first examine the mission of God and see how he has given us a mission.
The mission of God is to fill the earth with his glory so that all his creation would know and enjoy him forever (Genesis 1:28, Isaiah 43:7, Habakkuk 2:14, John 17:3).
We see immediately in Genesis 1 that God creates mankind as “image-bearers”. The idea of an image-bearer was common in the culture that Moses writes Genesis in. Here’s what would happen:
If the king of a nation would conquer another village, city, or nation, that king would somehow need to assert authority and power over this newly conquered territory. What kings would often do, then, is build a statue in his image in the new territory, which would reveal to everyone who was king of that land. The king would then return to his palace or home, and still would have authority in the conquered city simply by placing his image there.
It is this idea that Moses uses to communicate how mankind was created. We are like these images, placed on earth, to reveal to the entire earth that this land is God’s: that God is king over all the earth.
God, then, tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply image-bearers, and fill the entire earth. Why would he do this? So that the entire earth may be filled with image-bearers reflecting God’s glory to the world. Once the earth is filled with God’s image-bearers, then all of creation would be able to see us and know that God is Lord.
Yet, in Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve no longer want to give glory to God, rather they want to become like God. It was not enough for them to reflect God’s glory, they wanted to steal God’s glory. So they bit at the serpent’s temptation, and sin fractured man’s relationship with God.
Human beings are no longer perfect image-bearers reflecting God’s glory to creation. We are now glory thieves who exchanged God for our own desires (Romans 1:18-32). The desire to usurp God’s glory for ourselves has placed us as enemies of God and deserving of Hell. It is no small thing for created beings to rebel against their Creator. The punishment for treason of God is eternal separation from God.
Because of our sin, we deserve punishment and separation. Yet God would not give up on his ultimate mission. After Adam and Eve fell into sin because of the tempting serpent, God foreshadows a day for the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
God would one day send an offspring of Eve that would crush Satan, sin and death. This offspring would not succumb to Satan’s temptation, but would conquer him. He would not desire glory for himself, but be the perfect image-bearer reflecting God’s glory. And we are told of this offspring:
“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) Jesus came as the true and ultimate image of God, fulfilling the command that we were given. He ends his life looking to the cross and proclaiming: “I have glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)
“We who have desired ourselves or the things of this world more than God are fallen image-bearers who deserved punishment. Yet God sent His Son to pay the penalty, so that we might be brought back to Him. As the perfect image-bearer, Jesus fulfilled the Father’s mission.
God sent his Son as the ultimate image-bearer to redeem fallen image-bearers back to Himself. So where does that leave the church today?
“As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
Just as Jesus was sent to call God’s people back to Him, so too we are now to go and call God’s people back to Him.
It is for this reason that “Mission” is a core value at Providence Church. We are not a group of people who simply enjoy knowing that Jesus has saved us; we are a group of sent ones on the same mission that Jesus was on. God is on a mission to redeem his fallen image-bearers and bring them back to life and joy in Him. Therefore, we are to be people on mission.
Specifically Jesus calls his church to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
So, let’s end by asking how we join the mission of God for the church today. I’ll give you two thoughts:
(1) Be a Disciple
In order for us to be on the mission of God, we have to first receive the mission for ourselves. We cannot join the movement of God to seek and save the lost if we have not yet been found. Therefore, it is imperative that you truly are a disciple of Jesus, first and foremost. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
Disciples of Jesus recognize that our sins mean that we deserve eternal separation from God in Hell. But, Jesus was given as a sacrifice on our behalf, and we trust in Him as our only way to right standing with God.
By the power of the Holy Spirit inside every one of us, we repent from sin and walk with God towards holiness. If these aspects are true of you, then you are a disciple of Jesus!”
If those aspects are true of you, you are a disciple of Jesus! While we’re not by any means perfect, we recognize our need for Jesus. To be a follower of Christ means trusting the Spirit of God to help us observe what God has commanded and defeat sin in our lives.
(2) Make Disciples
God’s mission is to bring people back to Him so that He gets the glory. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, the redeemed get to know and enjoy God. To make that happen, our mission is to tell people the message of Jesus. Making disciples, at its essence, is pointing people to Jesus. We really don’t need to make it more complicated than that.
So, do you have people in your life that are very far from Jesus that you can begin pointing to the good news of what He has done for them?
Do you have people in your life that are walking with Jesus that you can grow in your love and obedience of Jesus deeper by pointing each other to what Jesus has done for you?
It is not our responsibility to save souls or to perfect them — thank goodness that is up to God. But it is our joyful responsibility to walk with people and point them to Jesus, who can give them joy and life.
Therefore, Providence, we deeply value our mission. As image-bearers of God, we failed. But Jesus fulfilled the Father’s mission of bringing glory to His name. Which is why we point to Jesus as reason for everything we do.
Our mission is what drives us to bring the good news of Christ to our city and all the nations.