Monday, March 27, 2023
1 John 4:9-10 “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
Please allow me to generalize about something to make a point. In general, men understand a mission better than women. We’re just wired that way by God’s design. There are exceptions, but overall men are more outcome oriented than women. Consider the day after Thanksgiving. It’s 4:30 a.m., and men and women are rising out of bed. The women are putting on comfortable shoes and light layers of clothes for a long day of walking, looking to spend bucks. The men are putting on warm boots and heavy layers of clothes for a long day of sitting in the woods, looking to shoot bucks. The women are shopping. The men are hunting. Shopping is not a mission. If you have a list, and you go after only what’s on the list, and stop when the list is complete, you have been on a mission. The women in my family may have lists, but they are still shoppers, coming home with items that weren’t on the list and without items that were. Shopping involves spontaneity and self-indulgence. Mission requires sacrifice and focus. The men may come home without a deer, but they have not spent any time looking for anything else. They may have seen other game, but they stayed focused on their mission. Men don’t shop for deer, they hunt. We understand mission.
Now before you start throwing a tantrum and calling me sexist, let me assure you that there are times when I understand shopping and times that my wife sticks to a mission. The point is this – a mission has a specific objective. The dictionary definition of mission is “to be sent on a specific assignment.” Jesus Christ was sent on a mission with a specific purpose – to sacrifice Himself to save people from their sin. His mission was conceived in the heart of God who loved those who did not love Him. He accepted His mission as His own, and determined to fulfill it at all cost, so that the mission Commander would be honored. He surrendered His own rights and privileges for the sake of the mission objective and was willing to sacrifice His life on behalf of the mission’s benefactors – you and me. Jesus was not shopping, subject to spontaneous decisions and self-serving outcomes; He was on a mission, focused on one objective, and surrendered to the will and ways of His Commander.
Jesus successfully completed His mission when He died on the cross, and God honored Him for it by raising Him from the dead and making Him the new Commander-in-Chief of the spiritual army called the Church. As the Commander, Jesus has given us a mission. We have been given a list by Christ that includes three items: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love your neighbor as yourself; and go into all the world and make disciples. The question is do we consider this a shopping list or a mission? Many Christians have decided to be shoppers. They may carry the list with them, but they spend most of their day looking for bargains that will make their own life more enjoyable. If they happen to see an opportunity to accomplish something on their list, they may take the time to do it, but their primary focus is self-centered not Christ-centered. They are not on a mission.
Far too few of us have determined to accept the mission Jesus has given us and stick to it. We have decided to submit to the authority of the Commander and not be our own authority. We have made the choice to make every minute of every day count toward the accomplishment of the mission objectives. We have surrendered our personal goals and desires for the sake of Christ’s outcomes in the lives of others. We are on a mission.
One quick illustration of this truth will suffice. Years ago I was sharing with someone about our church’s mission to travel to the Louisiana bayou helping our sister church recover from Hurricane Katrina. This person was shocked, stating that they would never put themselves or their family at such risk of disease and infection that could be passed on to children and grandchildren when they returned home. She was a shopper. I want to be a missionary. Which are you going to be?