Psalm 67:3-4 shouts, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah”
When working in a conflicted area where stories of disasters and rumors of upcoming conflicts abound, it’s a good idea to keep centered on why we do what we do. It’s not difficult to ramp up an attitude of near-panic with so many obvious, physical needs. The challenge of trying to meet these vital needs and win lost souls compete for missions attention and resources in a results-driven world. Churches are not exempt from this mentality, and missionaries can, in seconds, “catch” a panic attack online even in a Facebook post.
While we are definitely focused on winning the lost, our first priority is not numbers or a “quick draw” salvation call to impress. It is not to “haul in a great catch.” And perhaps speaking for other comrades in ministry trenches, most of us would be happy with a so-so catch on most days! Fishing cliches aside, God is the one responsible for saving the lost – he draws souls to himself.
Then what is our first job? To be faithful until death? To wear out, not rust out for God? No, our first job is to remain in awe of God. To focus on the glory and power of God and to worship Him. This outflowing of our worship of God will then spill out of our hearts. A ministry heart in panic, anger or bitterness with a gluttonousnessappetite for self-fulfillment is one of discontentment and disillusionment. Self-loathing lurks in these unwelcome shadows.
God works within His own timeframe and thoughts. While we cannot live without Him, He can’t minister without us. He chooses to use us by His Grace to draw in the lost. The best soil in Jesus’ parables was the soil that received the seed and simply allowed the seed to do the work of multiplication. In another parable, Jesus mentioned that the farmer plants the seed and then goes to sleep. It is through his every day life as a farmer that God multiples His seed. We cannot fabricate “quick” fruit because it’s a natural process which, by its very nature, takes time. What about the thief on the cross? Perhaps Christ’s affirming words that this transgressor would be in paradise should also stir up thoughts that God had most likely drawn this man’s soul long before his hands felt Roman nails. Every one of us will bow our prideful hearts at some point to who God is.
John Piper in his book, “Let the Nations be Glad,” writes that worship is a deep foundation of missions and as such means that an intrinsic fear of God, based in personal ongoing experience and knowledge of His awesomeness, is without a doubt our priority.
Why is worship so important in missions? Shouldn’t it be obvious by our very name, Christian, that we bear in our souls God’s very name and know Him? No, it isn’t, for the Bible shows clearly that demons recognized and spoke with Jesus face to face many times. Satan himself knows who Jesus is, but that doesn’t mean he worships God or bows his prideful head to give God the glory He is due.
Worship means we know, understand and live with a passion for the truth that there is no other God who is due our awe, love, and devotion. Missions is not first and ultimate, God is.
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praise; he is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:4
God’s much greater than our failures or successes, perceived or real; He seeks to take us to a higher presence than the lure of self pity or ego’s boasts – to Himself. Years ago a spiritual leader bragged to John that they were writing national devotional booklet but had not opened the Bible in years. In the place of awe and worship of God, pride and ego had swaggered in, smothering the fruit of genuine worship.
Our passion to see God glorified actually fulfills His own desire to be supreme and central in all things, and the overflow of this delight impacts the lost and spiritually destitute drawing them to God, not to ourselves. This sacred partnership is with the Holy Spirit and the Church whom God uses to draw souls to Himself in a perplexing and inexhaustible love. Love that draws and forgives and renews.
Prayer for 2019: Lord, may we, in this amazing New Year of 2019 where you already completely dwell, live in awe, delight and daily worship of you. That the truth that you are Supreme and worthy of all the Glory will permeate every fiber of who we are and what we do. Father, we ask that our staff, our dear partners in the US and our precious team members overseas will live in confidence that You and You alone are God and humbly ask that our worship of you will draw many souls to you. Amen.
Some thoughts taken from John Piper’s book, “Let the Nations be Glad.”