Tuesday, April 12, 2022
In two weeks, I will be going on a mission trip. I have been on many of them, but I have started to recognize a problem. There is a difference between being on a mission trip and being on a mission. Mission trips can be either temporary interruptions to our normal pursuits of life or they can be another means of expressing the lifelong mission we are on.
When Jesus came to the last week of His life prior to His crucifixion, He spoke about being on mission. Everything about His life led up to this “trip”.
John 12:31 – 32 “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
Jesus describes His mission in three particulars:
- He will determine the guilt of the world and enforce the punishment;
- He will drive Satan from power;
- He will draw all men to Himself.
Of the three aspects of His mission, we are able to be involved in only one of them. Some well-meaning Christians try to get involved in more than one, but it is wasted effort and a prideful pursuit. Some think it is their responsibility to pass judgment on the sins of others. As Christians we only have the right to communicate the facts of the judgment already imposed, but it must be done in the context of the punishment that has already been suffered. If we are going to point out the sin in another person’s life it must be done with the grace of forgiveness and not with the condemnation of judgment. Jesus has already judged the world, and He has not asked us for our validation of that judgment.
Other Christians think it is their privilege to be able to drive Satan from power. Why are they attempting to do what has already been accomplished? In his Biblical letter, James says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We are not told to attack Satan, or to drive Him away. Rather, we are told to submit to God, and in the simple act of resisting Satan’s attacks he will flee from us. Why? Because his power has already been broken in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is foolish to engage in a work that is already completed.
But as Christians we are to be involved in lifting Jesus up from the earth so that He may draw all men to Himself. I know that Jesus was specifically referring to the type of death He would die on the cross when He said this, but there is an ongoing application for all of us. First, Jesus was not saying that all people would be saved. We know that is not true from what happened to Judas and one of the thieves on the cross next to Him. Not everyone will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. But when Jesus was lifted up on the cross, He made it possible for all mankind to come to the knowledge of who He is. It is now our responsibility to live and speak in such a way that we lift Jesus up above the things of the earth so that all people have a chance to know who He is.
Our mission is to lift up Jesus above the earth. Our mission is to make the life of Christ more obvious in us, so He is more obvious to the people around us. This means sacrificing the significance of earthly things and stipulating the significance of heavenly things. Paul says in Colossians 3:1 – 3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
But don’t be confused or discouraged – it is not our lives that attract people to Jesus: it is the life of Jesus seen in us that draws them. He draws people to Himself, and we are the vessels He has chosen to use to be seen by the world. For that to happen, my vessel must be clear so He can be seen in me, not so colored by my own opinions, preferences, and goals that the world can only see me. May our lives be clear of the entanglements of the earth so that we can lift up Jesus so that He can draw people to Himself. That is our mission, and it’s quite a trip.