Missions is About the Glory of God
Why should local churches and individual Christians do things like go overseas to tell people about Jesus? Why should we raise funds and leave the comforts of home and family behind in order to tell people about the love of God in Christ? In other words, why do we do missions?
There are several reasons why we should do missions. We are commanded to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). We know that people who die without trusting in Jesus face an eternity in hell, separated from God (John 3:36), so we are compelled by the love of Christ to be “ambassadors for Christ” and to “implore” people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:14, 20). We want to be like God – the first missionary. The Father sent the Son, the Son came to earth to carry out the mission his Father had given him, and then the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit. God is a sending and going God – he’s a missionary God, and we’re called to be like him.
So we do missions for all these reasons and more. But is there a more fundamental reason, a more basic reason why we do missions, or why we should do missions? Yes, I think there is. The most basic reason why we should do missions is for the glory of God. This reason is stated in various ways throughout the Bible. One example is 1 Chronicles 16:24, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” And then in verses 28-29 of the same chapter: “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.”
The Lord wants to be glorified among the nations. He is jealous for his name to be praised by all the peoples of the world. Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The glory of God among all the peoples of the world is God’s ultimate goal, and is therefore the goal of missions. So we do missions for the global glory of God.
God wants his name to be praised by all the “families of the peoples” (1 Chron. 16:28). This is an interesting phrase. It says that, not only the “peoples,” but the “families of the peoples” should give glory to the Lord. This refers to all the diverse groups of people that make up the large ethnic blocks of humanity. So, for example, among the Chinese people, there are 549 smaller “families” (http://joshuaproject.net/countries/CH). These smaller groups are often called “people groups,” and are primarily identified by their different languages. So while most Chinese people speak Mandarin, the 549 people groups in China also speak other dialects, or other languages. 1 Chronicles 16:28 says that the Lord wants to be praised in all of them.
Can you imagine what it will sound like when all the redeemed from all the “peoples” gather around the throne of God to sing praises to Jesus, each in their own dialect? “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9-10) This uncountable choir will shake the walls of heaven when this chorus is sung!
This choir will be gathered together from the four corners of the earth because of God’s desire to be glorified among all peoples. His passion for his glory is what will create this choir. Yet he has chosen to use us as his choir-finding agents. He has determined to use us, his church, to be his agents of reconciliation among the peoples of the earth (2 Cor. 5:18-20). He has given us his Spirit to empower our witness “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He has promised that his church will be built and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The Lord will be glorified among all the peoples of the earth and the church is the way that he has ordained to make that happen.
God’s goal in history is wrapped up in his desire to be glorified among all the peoples of the earth. History only has one end (Rev. 5:1-14; 7:9-17). We only have one life. May we use it for the glory of God’s name among the nations. Some will go to the nations. The rest of us will send. But we all have a part to play, especially in light of the reality that God has brought the nations of the world to our doorstep in north Dallas.
May we as a church do all that we can, while we can, to “make known the deeds of the Lord among the peoples” wherever we find them (1 Chron. 16:8).
With you in this great mission, for the glory of God,