All Roads Lead to Mission

I sent some time yesterday brainstorming with a colleague about short term missions. He's under pressure to prepare a brochure which will describe our vision as a mission in the area of short term ministry. Since there is hearty debate about what the word "mission" actually means, his problem is not an easy one.

Our war with words often becomes a distraction. Getting lost in the semantics has, for example, clouded the wonderful message of God's redemptive purposes as found in the Book of Romans. We fight over the meaning of words when the message within the context of the rest of Scripture is perfectly clear.

All this to say that this morning's verse is an excellent definition of mission. Paul's heart, like God's, is the sharing of the Gospel. The apostle was a preacher so preaching was his preferred method. But in the end it was the gospel preached by any means that stoked the furnace of his heart.

"Prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up," writes Paul in Ephesians 4:12 (NIV). Preparation, training, learning, was never just an academic exercise. All these were meant to be simply the means to an end. That end was kingdom service, and that service was directed to evangelism and spiritual growth.

Perhaps our problem is that we work from the wrong direction. First of all we need to find God's heart, then we need to discover how to bring our hearts to beat in sync with his. When that's done we won't have any problems defining "mission."


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