Instead of asking, what motivates us to missionary work, the starting question should be:
“What motivates God?”
Why would God provide me reconciliation through Jesus?
Was it simply because of his love for me?
Or is there a greater plan in the heart of God?
Is my reconciliation through Christ simply because God loves me, or because God wants to use me towards a greater purpose?
Why would God choose to work with us human beings who are redeemed individuals?
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. – Psalm 57:9
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. — Psalm 96:3
1. The Heart of God: A Love for the Nations
As I’ve meditated on Scriptures with this question, I get taken to this answer:
God the Father has a heart for the nations.
God’s heart for the nations is revealed in the encounter with Abraham (Genesis 12).
God makes three promises to Abraham.
- I will make you into a great nation.
- I will make your name great.
- I will bless you.
Though the men of Babel wanted to make their own name great, God confused their languages.
God now promises one man, from one nation, to make his name great, and into a great nation.
In these three promises, God has given Abraham a responsibility, where God states clearly his purposes for the nations.
“You will be a blessing, and all the nations on the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
In one sentence, God has revealed his plan for the redemption of the world. Every nation of the earth will be impacted.
This promise was stated again and again in Genesis when the covenant was restated.
- Genesis 18:18: “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him”
- Genesis 22:18: “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
- Genesis 26:4 “and through your offspring, all the nations on earth will be blessed” (said to Isaac)
- Genesis 28:14: “All the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (said to Jacob – 3rd generation)
Through the working out of God’s redemptive plan through the descendants of Abraham, Jesus would come to reconcile to the Father all things.
God’s heart is for the nations.
2. The Plan of God: Gather the Nations.
Revelation 7:9-11 gives us a perfect picture of the fruit of the gathering the nations.
Every tribe, every tongue.
The end of Revelation shows us the complete picture of the redeemed multicultural community and the complete fulfillment of God’s covenant promise:
“I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
The fruit of God’s grace — my reconciliation — gives me the privilege to cooperate with God in gathering the nations.
My labor in God’s kingdom is all part of this larger work — to gather the nations.
I’m not saved and reconciled simply because God loves me.
I am saved for a purpose. God wants to use me in gathering the nations.
3. The Invitation of God: Cooperate with Him.
We are called to declare the praises of God and his among the nations. (Psalm 96).
As I meditate on that verse, I’m reminded once again that for people to hear our declarations of praise, we must participate in the gathering of the people.
- For some, that is working in a multicultural church. I have helped to start 4 of these.
- For others, that is working among immigrants.
- For still others, that is working among your own people group.
- For my family, that is working in other countries, particularly in Latin and South America.
You have your own particular expression.
- Some of you are called to give to missions to enable this work.
- Some of you are called to short term or long term missions.
- Some of you are called to help or lead your church in the work of mission.
- Some of you are called to launch businesses that fund missions work.
As you look at your current calling, how does it fit with God’s plan to gather the nations?
I am a part of cooperating with God to fulfill God’s plan to gather the nations.
Let me ask you this?
If you are feeling a little stale in your ministry, take a reflective look at your ministry and ask yourself — how am I cooperating with God’s plan to gather the nations?
How does your particular ministry expression cooperate with God’s plan to gather the nations?