You were made for a mission. Jesus said, "In the same way that You gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world" (John 17:18), and, "The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me..." (Acts 20:24). God is at work in the world, and He wants you to join Him. This assignment is called your mission, and it is different from your ministry. Your ministry is your service to believers in the Body of Christ, while your mission is your service to unbelievers in the world. God created you for both.
Your life mission is both shared and specific. One part of it is a responsibility you share with every other Christian, and the other part is an assignment that is unique to you. Our English word "mission" comes from the Latin word for "sending." Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
Jesus clearly understood his life mission on earth. At age 12 he said, "I must be about my father's business," and 21 years later, dying on the cross, he said, "It is finished." Like bookends, these two statements frame a well-lived, purpose-driven life. He completed the mission the Father gave him. The mission that Jesus had while on earth is now our mission since we are the Body of Christ. What he did in his physical body, we are to continue as his spiritual body - the church. What is that mission? Introducing people to God! The Bible says "... Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also."
God wants to redeem human beings from Satan and reconcile them to himself so we can fulfill the five purposes for which we were created: to love him, to be a part of his family, to become like him, to serve him, and to tell others about him. Once we are his, God uses us to reach others for these five purposes. He saves us and then sends us out. The Bible says, "We have been sent to speak for Christ." We are the messengers of God's love and purposes to the world.
Take a look at these perspectives on why you need to take this mission seriously:
1. Jesus commands us to continue his mission
He calls us not only to come to him, but also to go for him. Your mission is so important Jesus repeated it five times in five different ways in five different books of the Bible. It is as if he was saying "I really want you to get this!" Study these five commissions of Jesus and you'll learn the details of your mission on earth - the when, where, why and how.
In one of these instances Jesus said, "Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you." This Great Commission was not given to pastors but to every follower of Jesus.
Note that these words are not the Great Suggestion. Your mission is mandatory, not optional, if you are a part of God's family. Jesus said, "Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God."
You may have been unaware that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers that live around you. The Bible says, "... you must warn them so they may live. If you don't speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But I will hold you responsible for their death." You are the only Christian some people will ever know and your mission is to share Jesus with them.
2. Your mission is a great privilege
Although it is a profound responsibility, it is also an incredible honor to be used by God. Paul said, "God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him." Your mission involves two great privileges: working with God and representing him. We get to partner with God in the building of his kingdom. Paul calls us "co-laborers" and says, "We are workers together with God."
Jesus secures our salvation, puts us in his family, gives us his Spirit, and then makes us his agents in the world. The Bible says, "We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you."
3. Your mission is the greatest thing you can do for someone
If your neighbor had cancer, or AIDS, and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse would be to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace, and eternal life. We have the greatest news in the world and sharing it is the greatest kindness you can show to anyone.
One problem that long-term Christians have is they forget how hopeless it felt to be without Christ. We must remember that everybody needs Jesus, no matter how contented or successful they appear to be. Without Christ, they are hopelessly lost and headed for eternal separation from God. The Bible says, "Jesus is the only One who can save people."
4. Your mission has eternal significance
It will impact the eternal destiny of other people, so it's more important than any job, achievement, or goal you'll reach during your life on earth. The consequences of your mission will last forever. Nothing else you do will ever matter as much as helping people establish an eternal relationship with God.
This is why we must be urgent about our mission. Jesus said, "All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end." The clock is ticking down on your life mission, so don't delay another day. Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We'll have all of eternity to celebrate with those we've brought to Jesus, but we only have our lifetime in which to reach them.
5. Your mission gives your life meaning
William James once said, "The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it." The truth is, only the Kingdom of God is going to last. Everything else will eventually vanish. Knowing that, why would you give anything else a higher priority?
Paul said, "My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." If you fail your mission, you've wasted the life God gave you. On the other hand, if just one person will be in heaven because of you, your life cannot be considered a failure. You weren't placed on earth to do nothing or just live for yourself. God invites you to participate in what he's doing in the world. Whenever you see God at work, it's an invitation to join him.
God's timetable for history's conclusion is connected to the completion of the commission we've been given. Today, there's a growing interest in the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. When will it happen? Right before Jesus ascended to heaven the disciples asked Jesus this question, and his response was quite revealing. He said, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism! He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. Jesus said, "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I've given you. Focus on that!"
Speculating on the timing of Christ's return is futile since Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Since Jesus said, "Even I don't know the day or hour," why would we try to figure it out? What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone he wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, "The Good News about God's kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come." If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.
6. Completing your mission will bring glory to God
The night before he was crucified Jesus reported to his Father, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." Will you be able to say that at the end of your life? It's what you were created to do and should be your life goal.
7. God blesses the life dedicated to his kingdom
Jesus said, "More than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well." The secret of being blessed by God is to participate in his agenda for the world - to be a part of what he is accomplishing on earth. Instead of praying, "God bless what I want to do" pray "God help me to do what you're blessing!" Each morning pray "Father, I know you're going to doing some amazing things in the world today, and I'd like the privilege of being included in some of them."
Fulfilling the mission you were made for will require you to abandon your agenda and adjust to God's agenda. David prayed, "Turn me away from wanting any other plan than yours." Your mission begins the moment you say "yes" to God in obedience, faith, and love.
Can you think of any valid reason to prevent you from making that commitment? The Bible says, "Give yourselves completely to God--every part of you--for you are back from death and you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes." Why don't you pause and commit yourself to this purpose for your life right now?
This article is used by permission from From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry. www.pastors.com.