Shannon and I have been in classes all this week. We’re taking a course called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” (www.perspectives.org) which is taught all over the place. It gives biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspectives on missions, and it’s fantastic.
The course started for us about a month ago when we signed up. Since the course is so intense, they expect you to do all the readings and quizzes ahead of time. Shannon and I worked on them together, and they were a huge amount of work. There are 15 lessons, and each one took us between 4 and 8 hours to complete! But, the readings are so good. And this week, we’ve been getting a variety of speakers – at least 2 every day – discussing the material from each lesson, telling stories from the mission field, challenging our assumptions, and stimulating our thinking.
One of the biggest take-away lessons for me so far can be summed up by a quote from John Piper – “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” Let me unpack that a bit.
First, I’ve been impacted by the centrality of worship. Worship of God is the goal. He’s created us to worship, and to bring Him glory. It’s not because God is insecure, and so He needs us to tell Him how great He is to feel ok about Himself. God desires our worship because He alone is worthy of our worship! And, He knows that we will only find true joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment when we give Him glory. After all, we will always worship something, whether it be family, material possesions, career, or something else. But all of those things will en-slave us to them, and will let us down at times. Only God is a worthy object of our worship.
Second, God doesn’t just want me to worship Him. He wants to be glorified by people everywhere around the world! He’s created each nation, language, tribe, and culture uniquely, and He desires that each one would bring Him worship in their unique way as well. The story of God’s plan to bring people from ALL nations to worship Him is throughout the Bible, starting with the promise to Abraham in Gen 12 (“through you all the nations will be blessed”), through the Psalms, through the Prophets, and culminating in the great commission: go and make disciples of ALL nations.
And that is why missions exists. It’s purpose is to proclaim God’s greatness and glory throughout the world, in places where He is not yet worshipped, so that people will be drawn to Him and He will receive the glory He deserves.
That’s one of the main nuggets that I’ve taken away. But, there have been many more, and I’m still processing much of what I’ve heard. Maybe I’ll share a few more thoughts that come out over the next weeks. Oh, and I’d highly recommend this course to anyone who is committed to seeing God’s purpose in the earth go forward, whether you are thinking of becoming a cross-cultural missionary or not.