An Unfinished Mission
This Sunday launches Westgate Church’s annual Missions Conference (Oct. 16-23). One of the many things that excited me about coming to Westgate last spring was its strong emphasis on global missions. I’m so thankful for the men and women who are laying their lives down for the gospel in cross-cultural contexts. You can find out more about the conference and all that will be going on here.
As we give focused attention to missions over the next couple weeks, I want to share an excerpt from John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad, which has done more than any other book to fuel my desire to see God’s Church passionately engaged in missions. There lies before us an unfinished task, and what’s at stake is nothing less than the glory of God.
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Psalm 97:1). “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Psalm 67:3-4).
But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!“, who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord. . . . I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 104:34; 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.
If the pursuit of God’s glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man’s good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be well served and God will not be duly honored. I am not pleading for a diminishing of missions but for a magnifying of God. When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the most remote peoples on earth. And I long for that day to come!
–John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 11-12 (bold emphasis mine).