Pastoral Perspectives

“Missions Exists Because Worship Doesn’t”

The title of today’s perspective is a quotation from John Piper, one of the most influential Christian preachers and authors of the 21st century. The quote first caught my eye because it touches something close to my heart – worship! You may ask, “What has missions got to do with worship? Since we are coming to the end of Missions month, I would like to reflect on that question as well as some lessons I have been reminded of as I sat listening to each week’s sermons on missions. Revelation 7.9-12 reads: “9After 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,10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” For that scene to take place, surely we need to press on in bringing the Gospel to every nation, tribe, people and language so that all who have been chosen from every corner of the world will come before God’s throne to worship Him. As long as that has not happened, missions will have to continue.

            “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.” (John Piper) Missions is therefore a means to an end and that end is worship. When we share the Gospel with people, we often think that the end goal is for the people to be saved from death and condemnation – that will be too human centered. The end goal is so that those who are saved will rejoice in the Lord and give Him the worship that He deserves and desires. “3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!Let the nations be glad and sing for joy…” (Ps 67.3-4) The end goal has got to be God centered – it is ultimately about the worship and glory of God rather than the mere salvation of man.

          Piper says, “Worship should fuel missions.” Our weekly corporate worship and daily individual worship (when we do our QT) ought to fire in us such a passion for God that we will go forth into the world and passionately reach others for Jesus. That is why at the end of every worship service, a charge is always given to the congregation to step back into the world and live our lives in such a way where we will turn peoples’ attention to Christ. If we are lukewarm in our faith, and we are not passionate about God, then we will not be passionate about what He is passionate about – we will not be bothered about His Great Commission. “There will be no passion to draw others into our worship when there is no passion for worship.” (John Piper) If we are on fire for God, there is no limit as to what the Spirit can do in and through us for the sake of His Kingdom.

          What is it in worship that fans our passion for missions? It will have to be the Gospel. We need to hear the Gospel during our worship service. We need to be reminded that God first walked across the cosmos to reach out to us. We need to be overwhelmed all over again by the amazing love of God shown on the cross of Calvary. We need to wonder why of all people God has extended His grace to us, so unconditional, so undeserving! “What has to grip us, what has to motivate us is Jesus…we go because of our love for Jesus, our love for God, and our desire that everyone has a chance to hear this Good News of a Saviour who loves us…Our whole motivation [to do evangelism and missions] has to be Jesus.” Henry Bell (1st Sunday’s preacher for Missions month) “A heart transformed by the Gospel must give itself away.” (David Walker, 2nd Sunday’s preacher) If the Gospel has taken a strong grip on our heart, we will readily spend our lives for Kingdom’s work. This was what happened to Isaiah when he saw God seated on His throne, high and lifted up; he saw God’s holiness and the angelic beings worshipping Him; he saw his own unworthiness and sinfulness; he experienced the healing touch of God when coal was taken from the altar and placed upon his mouth to signify the taking away of his guilt. As a result, Isaiah was able to say, ‘Send me,’ when God asked who would go on His behalf. Worship compelled Isaiah to answer the call. Worship should also compel us to answer God’s call to us.

          God Himself is very passionate about missions. As His people, we ought to be equally passionate. My prayer throughout this month has been that as we all tune into the messages on missions, we will also be challenged to continue to walk across the room right where we are. Missions is at our door steps because God has brought people of different nationalities to Singapore for work or study. The opportunities to reach them are right in front of us. Do make use of the platforms which the church provides to invite them to hear the Gospel. There will be one more Gospel Sunday in September and of course there is the evangelistic musical at the end of the year. Let’s not be discouraged whenever we face rejections or even ridicule. In every situation, there will always be those who are skeptical, but let’s not forget that nothing is impossible for God; there will also be those who are seeking and we should make every effort to journey with them, constantly pointing them to Christ and clearing their doubts along the way; and of course, there will be those who will come to genuine faith and eventually join the multitude consisting of different nations, tribes, peoples and languages worshipping the Lord. That’s when missions will cease. Till then, the work must continue!

Pastor Kien Seng

August 26, 2012