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Ask A Pastor


The Gift We Have Been Given In Christ

Q) What is the driving force behind those who sacrifice so much for the purpose of ministering to others?

A)  If you have been to missions conferences or read books on ministry, you will hear or feel several motivations to get you in the game.  One is guilt.  If we do not do the work, whether that work is on a foreign field or in our backyard, it will not get done.  People will die and spend eternity in hell because we were not willing to go.  Or, it might be put this way:  we have so much and the world has so little.  How can we live in our abundance while the rest of the world suffers?  Another motivation is the presence of need.  The work is so great and there are so few engaged.  Another motivation might be a sense of duty.  Because the need is so great and because I have been commanded to go, I must fulfill my duty and give myself for the cause.

All of these might have a ring of truth, but will they sustain us over the long haul, especially if that haul is difficult?  Will guilt of having too much, or the duty to fulfill my Christian obligation, or the overwhelming need of so many move me to give up that which I consider precious, even possibly my life, and do it with joy, all for the sake of others?  There must be something more.  There is.  It is the Gospel.

The only thing that can lead someone to give up all to enter into a world of known hardship and suffering, for the betterment of others and with great joy, is that they must have found something of much greater value.  The losses we experience in missions become less a sacrifice and more a cleaning out of the rubbish that gets in the way of the true, good life.  It is no sacrifice to give up a meal of Spam when I can have a juicy, freshly grilled ribeye steak. 

Believers have something good beyond comprehension—a renewed relationship with the Ultimate Good, Jesus. It is a relationship that He accomplishes for us and in which He lavishes good upon us freely.  Such a relationship, when we begin to comprehend it, gives us an outpouring of joy that needs to flow to others.  And, in our joy it becomes our pleasure to proclaim the good that we have found, even in light of personal loss of resources.  Paul considered “all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ.”  Our whole life as Christians becomes an overflow of the joy we have found through the Gospel, a joy that increases as it is shared with others.

So, missions is not driven merely by a presentation of need, guilt for living with so much, or even dutiful submission.  The only thing that will motivate an individual or family to move to a foreign land, or to give up time, resources, or other comforts in order to enter into relationship with the neediest in our midst in order to tell them about Jesus, is a fresh comprehension of the gift we have been given in Christ.  We need to taste deeply the utter sweetness of knowing Christ.  When that happens, the joy will well up within and then have to flow outward.