Many times already, throughout the few short decades of my life, I’ve heard people ask the single most confusing question any disciple of Jesus could ever ask. “What does God want me to do with my life?” There would be no confusion if this were coming from a new believer. In fact, it would be expected that a recent convert, through the process of discipleship, would ask this of their discipler/s. However, I’ve heard folks in their 60’s and 70’s ask this of pastors in their 30’s more than once. This is a great problem but a greater one still exists. After all, the folks asking this question; well at least they realize they don’t know the answer. They do have that going for them. There is a second group that is in a more difficult situation. Every Sunday there are pews and padded chairs, from sea to shining sea, filled with people who truly believe they are accomplishing what God wants for them by simply showing up and perhaps, over time, gaining the courage to invite someone to the “church service” on Sunday. I would like to dive into the Bible to enlighten the first group and hopefully convict the second. The case I’m hoping to make is simple. God, from the very beginning of his revelation to us, was and is a missionary and, being a recipient of the glorious redemption we have in Christ, we are all called to simply join God in the mission he’s already on!
From the very first line in Genesis, when God introduces himself, we immediately read that God acted. God “created” by sending his almighty Word. In John 1:3 we learn that Jesus, the Son of God, was the active agent through which everything was created. He was and is that “WORD” of God, from the beginning. So even in the very first act of God, revealed to us in Scripture, Jesus was sent. Jesus was on mission for and with Yahweh. God spoke and Jesus went. In Genesis, chapter 3, during the story of the beginning of mankind’s rebellion against God, it says Adam and Eve heard the sound of God walking in the garden. There is a sense in this statement that it wasn’t a big deal that God was walking in the garden. It’s said in a way that makes it seem like a normal occurrence. Here’s the point. God came down and entered into relationship with mankind before the fall ever took place. God is and has always been on mission. The very root of God’s mission has never changed. God’s mission is that we, his beloved creation, would know him and glorify him and worship him and enjoy relationship with him forever.
Some scholars would say that mission is the clear difference between the Old and New Testaments. They would say that the New Testament marks the beginning of mission. Others, with whom I would agree, use God’s action toward humans to define mission. Julie Woods said, “mission (an attribute of God) is a ‘movement from God to the world’, rather than an activity conducted by humans.” Mission is one of the attributes of God. The fact that this perfect, holy, righteous, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient GOD would create us, then follow that by coming down and actually experiencing relationship with us is absolutely astounding!
The truth of God, being the action taker, coming down and taking part in relationship with mankind is not merely indisputable. It is foundational in understanding a right human response to the life-changing work of the Gospel. God uses this attribute of himself, mission, to shape an answer to the, “what do you want me to do with my life” questions of the world.
Throughout all of human history God has sent himself as the example. And throughout all of human history God has sent people on his mission. God established a covenant missionary people through Abraham. This nation, Israel, was meant to be a picture of the perfect, beautiful, intrinsically relational Kingdom of God within the blind world around it. They were a sent people. They were meant to show the world what relationship with God was and is like. There was a calling to display the clear difference between the worship of other gods and the worship of the one true God! They were called to be a people of God sent on mission with God.
However, it is no secret that Israel struggled in their efforts to fully and completely carry out this mission. They had one little problem that continued to haunt them throughout the whole of their history as a nation. They were humans. That meant they would, by default of nature, seek self-satisfaction and participate in self-indulgence. They would continually choose other things in place of their God, their Creator. God used them, in the mission he was already on, to display the basic need of every human to have a Savior. To enjoy God and worship God and be in meaningful relationship with God, humanity would have to get past their rebellion from God.
This conundrum did not surprise God. He had planned this from the beginning. God, would send Jesus into the world on his mission of redemption. And Jesus responded to this calling; this being sent with a resounding, “I will go, Father!” Jesus came into the world, lived the sinless life we could never have lived, and died the brutal death we should’ve died. Then, in the glorious climax and central point in all of history, Jesus brought himself back from beyond the grave, conquering both sin forever, and death forever! In a single act, God had made a way to reconcile back to himself everything that had gone dark upon the first rebellion thousands of years before. The reality of this God and the vastness of his Kingdom had been made known again.
It is the act of Christ in the Gospel that brings us into this current Church age. God’s mission is still the same. Herein lies the answer to the question. “What does God want me to do with my life?” God came as a missionary into this world to reveal himself to mankind. He did it so we would have the ability to glorify, worship, adore, stand in awe, and enjoy our King! Jesus, the sent Son, came into this world to redeem us and reconcile us back to God after our devisive rebellion, so we would have the ability to glorify, worship, adore, stand in awe, and enjoy our King! Jesus sent the Spirit after his ascension, to work through the life of his bride, the Church, so that the eyes of those who hadn’t yet believed would be opened. He did this so all would have the ability to glorify, worship, adore, stand in awe, and enjoy our King! This is the mission. This is what God has called EVERY believer and disciple of Jesus to. That we may work individually and together to alert those still blind to the reality of the Kingdom of God.
Though there are clear moments that God calls and sends specific people to do specific things, by and large, he is simply calling all of us to live every day out as missionaries where we are. This means first that you must understand the Gospel enough that you’re excited about it. You must truly believe and be caught up in awe by this glorious Gospel. When there is a clear and deep understanding of the Gospel of Jesus, the obsession with the Gospel follows closely behind. That’s what you have to be if you truly long to do “what God wants you to do with your life”. You must be completely swept off your feet by the love of the Father! When that happens you will naturally be about your Father’s business rather than being so worried about how you will fit him into yours. You will naturally become a student of your context to grow the effectiveness of your work as a missionary. You will naturally worship when you’re together with other believers for any reason. You will naturally long for and adhere to godly counsel and discipleship so you are more open to God further changing your heart for the sake of the mission, to which you’ve been called.
God calls all believers to join him on the mission he’s been on from the beginning. This GOOD NEWS that has turned your life upside down must be shared. Jesus sets the example at the very beginning of his ministry on Earth, 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Jesus begins his short time of ministry with his thesis statement, if you will. Jesus knew he had been sent. He was on a mission. “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives”, said Jesus in Luke 4:18. Father, Son, and Spirit have acted as sent ones, not for nothing. God did this because it’s a large part of who he is.
And now he calls to you and I. He calls to us, “Come! Come over here with me. See what I’m doing? Follow me! There are many eyes to open!” So go. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).