Keep calm and mission on…
I don’t know about you but I often feel very frightened about the future. The media seems to love lobbing bad news grenades about wars, religious fights, financial crisis, natural disasters, famous Christians falling away etc. etc. We live in uncertain times where many are most likely edgy and uncertain about the direction of their lives and that of their children. To the Christian person, this should not be surprising. Jesus said that the things we are seeing and experiencing now are simply signs of living in the last days. In Matthew 24 Jesus tells his disciples that in the last days there will be false prophets, wars and rumours of wars, nations rising against nations, natural disasters, persecution, many Christians who stumble and fall spiritually, betrayal, hatred, lack of love and increased lawlessness. A few minutes of listening to the news and you will see ALL of these signs on full display with dazzling neon lights that flicker in the night. We truly are living in dire times.
Why does Jesus tell this to His disciples? Why is it recorded in Scripture for us to know? I think the verses that follow helps bring some clarity “But the one who endures to the end will be saved”. Firstly, I believe Jesus is giving a warning that Christians are not exempt from persecution and troubled times. However, the way we deal with that trouble is key. We can either 1. Give up by renouncing the faith. 2. Lighten the trouble by modifying our faith to bend to the culture of the world. Or 3. Endure to the end. This is the option I am choosing and encouraging you to choose HOWEVER, the answer is not simply to endure in the sense of hiding under your pillow until the danger passes, or gritting your teeth and waiting for a brighter day. We endure more like runners who endure with purpose, heading towards a goal. We endure like soldiers who endure because of an important mission that has to be accomplished. But; what is this purpose or mission?
After giving a sobering truth about troubled times and a warning about enduring, Jesus makes this strong statement: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.
Isn’t the placement of this verse interesting? Why the quick transition from trouble and endurance to And this gospel…I think there is something to say here about the context in which world missions operates. Metaphorically speaking there is no convenient, tarred expressway running across every nation on which the Gospel is transported. Missions is (and has been) happening in the midst of war, colonization, natural disaster, setback, slavery and persecution. There is no highway, but thousands of small dangerous walkways made through blood, sweat and tears. Missions is hard, it requires endurance, but it is not meaningless, the end will come and the reward will be sweet. Consider Jesus as our example. His obedience did not lead to a blessed, happy, trouble-free life. His obedience led to a brutal death on the cross. BUT! It was through this act of obedience that light and salvation has gone to the nations, the final result after the resurrection was jubilant joy and victory. The darkest, cruellest act of sin (Nailing the perfect Son of God to a cross) was used as the ultimate blessing to the world. Jesus obeyed, it cost Him his life, but it resulted in lasting, complete, 100% authentic joy. We don’t simply wait; we endure with obedience, confident in the power of the gospel.
Soon I will post again about the gospel of the kingdom and answer some of the what, where, how questions relating to missions in a mad, misery filled world. But for now; here are a few final words of practical encouragement.
- If the injustice does not lift…keep calm and mission on.
- If the economy falls…keep calm and mission on.
- If your favourite pastor/author falls because of some scandal…keep calm and mission on.
- If war should break out…keep calm and mission on.
- If persecution arises…keep calm and mission on.
- When the future looks grim and hopeless…keep calm and mission on.
God knows your situation, He has placed you in this world, at this time, to use you in taking this gospel to the nations. Mission on!