Even though I’m a missionary and I work at a place with a strong focus on the “least reached” (those places where the largest amount of people have not even heard of Jesus), I’m not particularly motivated by the statistics. I’m not especially drawn to “uncharted” pockets of the planet.
To be honest, any and all ignorance about God motivates me, and I’m just as drawn to people who have wrong beliefs about Jesus as I am to those who have never heard of him.
To some this may be shocking and un-missionary-like of me. I’m not ashamed, although I have been tempted to be, that I don’t feel more drawn to the 10/40 window than I do to other parts of the world. This is not because I don’t care about the great need in those places. What I care even more deeply about, though, is God himself, his reputation, his glory….
Reading the New Testament, it is clear through Jesus (and the disciples and apostles that followed him) that God is an advocate for the poor and abused. But just as obvious, is that Jesus was passionate about people being led astray from God by wrong teaching. Paul, also was vehement in coming against legalism, syncretism and grace abuse. Those three things are still huge problems in the world. All of those things stem from a wrong view of God’s nature and character.
It might seem backward or callous that I care more about God’s reputation than I do about people’s salvation. After all, you might say, God isn’t weak that he would need me to defend him! I totally agree. God does not need me to defend him. But in order of importance and value, God is absolutely first. The beauty of this reality is that what he offers to humans is adoption into his family. He loves and values us. After all, he created us. And it is when we have a real and right view of him that we start to understand that value, and begin to honor other humans as valuable as well.
But it starts with a right and real view of God. This is where most of us suffer. Why are there nations that have not heard of Jesus even after 2,000 years of opportunity? It’s because Christians have not had a right and real view of God. They have hoarded him and been stingy. They have counted their own lives as more valuable than the multiplication of Jesus’ life. And so they stayed home and prayed for blessing. They let fear of failure, fear of poverty, fear of rejection disable them. They let apathy soothe them.
And still God is worthy.
It isn’t really an either/or thing. It’s not either you love the poor and serve them or you love God and serve him. If you love God, you serve the poor and this serves God. The Great Commission is not about making converts, it’s about making disciples. What is a disciple? A disciple is a person who loves, respects, believes and honors someone so much that they follow them as a child follows their parents. One definition says a disciple is an active adherent.
But what motivates and inspires a person to love and respect, believe and honor and actively adhere to Jesus? This devotion is not found in guilt trips or threats of hell (although I’ll admit it sometimes starts there), this devotion develops from real encounters, real love, sacrificial examples and a real God. All other paths to devotion are fatal.
This is why I am passionate about God’s reputation, his image, his name, his glory, because not only is he the most worthy, but when we have a wrong view of him we head towards death. Everyone. Those who haven’t heard and those who have, those blinded by affluence and those enslaved to poverty.
I am here to know God and make him known, wherever I happen to be.