“We are what we think about. Think about trivial things or weak things and somehow one loses fiber and becomes flabby in spirit. Soldiers need to be strong. Soldiers have not time for everything. ‘I have no time for anything outside my profession’ a young officer said once, and in measure, that is true. We can’t be entangled in the affairs of this life if we are to be real soldiers. By its affairs I mean its chatter and its ways of thinking and deciding questions, its whole aspect and trend.” -Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark
Two thousand years ago, the Son of God laid aside His glory, stepped out of heaven, and entered our earthly dimension for one reason. He was on a mission. He had a predetermined, divine mandate to fulfill. He told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34) after revealing Himself as the promised Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well. He was the Son of Man, “come to seek and to save” the lost (Luke 19:10). He was sent for this purpose, to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).
He acknowledged the inescapability of His mission, telling His disciples, “What am I to say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). And just hours before He went to the cross, He confirmed to Pilate, “for this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
What truth? The truth of the gospel, that men are born into sin and need a Savior.
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What Was Jesus’ Mission?
Jesus was always abundantly clear about His mission. In the first few days of His public ministry, He stood up in a Jewish synagogue and proclaimed it. He read Isaiah 61:1-2, acknowledging that He was the fulfillment of the prophet’s words.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18).
Jesus knew who He was and why He came. He fulfilled His part of the mission as He walked among the people, preaching the kingdom of God, teaching the truths of Scripture, and healing miraculously to confirm and exhibit the power of God that dwelled in Him. He paid the sin debt owed by humanity through the cross and resurrection, and just before He returned to His Father in heaven, He passed the baton to His disciples, instructing them to continue the same mission of taking the gospel to the world.
Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As disciples of Jesus, we also are called to carry on the mission of Jesus. And, as Amy Carmichael reminds us in the quote above, we must be single-minded as soldiers if we are to fulfill our mission. We must be intentional and practical if we are to avoid the entanglements of this life that would hinder us from walking in obedience. Here are five practical ways we can continue the mission of Jesus.
1. Recognize God’s Sovereignty over Our Lives
Neither the timing nor the purpose of Jesus’ arrival was random or coincidental. Paul tells us that Jesus came into our world “when the fullness of the time came” (Galatians 4:4). God is sovereign, meaning that He has all authority and control over what happens, as well as when, why, and how (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). It’s not by chance that we live when and where we do; it is by God’s own plan and purpose (Acts 17:24-28). Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that while we make plans, “God orders our steps.” Recognizing God’s sovereignty over our lives helps us understand and fulfill our mission of spreading the gospel.
God is at work in our world every day through His Holy Spirit, speaking to those who are in spiritual poverty, oppressed, blinded, and held captive by sin. He orchestrates the events in our lives with purpose, bringing us into contact with them, at just the right time, under just the right circumstances, so that we can be His messengers and ambassadors for the gospel. That family who moved in next door, the girl in the office next to yours, the man who always seems to work out at the same time as you – these are not random encounters. God is sovereignly working to create opportunities for us to share truth. Ask God to make you more aware of His sovereignty in your life.
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2. Pray Often, According to the Will of God
If the Son of God needed to pray, how much more do we? “Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). He prayed both publicly and privately. The impact of His prayers was such that the disciples asked Him, “teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
Jesus gave specific instructions about prayer in relation to the mission of sharing the gospel. As He went through the various cities and villages, He was filled with compassion for the people He met. They were “distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Using the illustration of a harvest, He told His followers the harvest was plentiful and ready (John 4:35), but there was a lack of laborers. We continue Jesus’ mission by asking the Father to “send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38). This is God’s will, and Scripture promises that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and will answer.
Paul urged his fellow believers to pray for God to open up a door for the gospel, so that he could proclaim the mystery of Christ (Colossians 4:3); he also asked for prayers on his behalf, that he would open his mouth boldly for the gospel (Ephesians 6:19). This reminds us of what happened when the disciples gathered together and devoted themselves to prayer after Jesus had ascended. The Holy Spirit descended, enabling them to preach the gospel with supernatural power, so that men from all nations heard the good news in their own language (Acts 2:1-11).
Days later, when Peter and John were commanded to stop speaking about Jesus but refused to obey men rather than God, a similar thing happened as the believers met to pray. “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Praying for laborers, praying for the lost, praying for boldness and opportunities. We continue Jesus’ mission by praying persistently, often, and according to the will of God.
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3. Obey the Holy Spirit in Serving and Loving Our Neighbors
Jesus’ mission was a mission of mercy. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus taught a parable that perfectly illustrated His mission of mercy and shows us practical ways to do the same. In Luke 10, a lawyer asks Jesus what he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus essentially tells him he must fulfill the Law (something we know is impossible in our fallen nature). The Law of Moses is summed up in the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Only Jesus could perfectly fulfill this command; the Law is our tutor, showing us our need for His righteousness. As the lawyer struggled to define what it meant to “love his neighbor,” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The true neighbor showed mercy to those in need. Once we know we are loved by God, and love Him in return, then we continue Jesus’ mission of mercy by loving and serving our neighbors – the people God puts in front of us.
God created us for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Paul told the young pastor, Titus, to teach his people to “engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs” (Titus 3:14) and because Christ Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). Jesus instructed His followers to let their light “shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Someone once defined compassion as “mercy with legs.” God saw our need for mercy; His compassion moved Him to act in mercy, by sending Jesus. Likewise, we continue Jesus’ mission of compassion for the lost by showing mercy to those in need of salvation. We serve others with the same heart attitude that was in Christ Jesus. He emptied Himself of His glory, was made in the likeness of men, and humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). Ask God to make you sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as He leads you to acts of mercy and love, in the spirit of Jesus’ mission.
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4. Tell What Jesus Has Done for Us
Jesus was never shy about who He was. In fact, His honesty was the very thing that led to His crucifixion. The Jewish people, their priests and scribes, and the ruling council of Pharisees and Sadducees, all knew the holy scriptures that prophesied of a coming Messiah. They were fully convinced that Messiah would come and restore God’s kingdom. Yet, when Jesus plainly told them He was the Son of God, they rejected Him. Each time they heard Him proclaim His identity, they grew more and more angry, accusing Him of blasphemy.
If we’re going to continue Jesus’ mission, we must be honest about who we are, and what He has done for us. Jesus warned the disciples that they would be sent out “as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3). He knew firsthand the hostility of an unbelieving world, but He also knew the necessity of telling the world the truth. Like Peter and John, when the world tells us to sit down and stop talking about Jesus, “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Like Paul, we are seeking to please God, not men (Galatians 1:10), and that takes courage.
While on earth, Jesus told His story. He was sent from God (John 8:42) and would return to the Father once His work was done (John 17:4). His purpose was to reveal the glory of God in human flesh (John 1:14), and to accomplish salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection. As we continue His mission, we must tell our own stories – who we were, how Jesus found us, how we responded to Him, and what He is doing in our lives now. His mission lives on in our stories of conversion and spiritual growth. Just like Jesus, we reveal the glory of God in both our stories, and in our acts of obedience.
5. Invite Others to Believe
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). These words were spoken to Martha while standing in front of her brother Lazarus’ grave. Mary and Martha knew without a doubt that Jesus had the power to prevent Lazarus from dying. They had seen Him heal the sick, cast out demons, and turn water into wine. They did not question His ability, but they were doubting His willingness. Jesus confronted their doubts with a simple question: Do you believe this?
As we continue His mission of reaching the lost, we also must be willing to ask the question, “Do you believe this?” We can love our neighbors as ourselves. We can perform many acts of kindness. We can believe that God is sovereign, and we can pray without ceasing. We can even tell what Jesus has done for us. But our mission is not complete until we ask the person in front of us, “Do you believe this?”
Our heavenly Father is the Lord of the harvest; it’s His harvest. We are not responsible for the results of the mission, but we are responsible to obediently labor in the fields. Ask God to give you boldness to complete your mission and pray for much fruit for the kingdom.
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Author Sheila Alewine is a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother of five. She and her husband lead Around The Corner Ministries, which serves to equip Christ-followers to share the gospel where they live, work and play. She has written several devotionals including Just Pray: God’s Not Done With You Yet, Grace & Glory: 50 Days in the Purpose & Plan of God, and her newest one, Open The Gift, as well as Going Around The Corner, a Bible study for small groups who desire to reach their communities for Christ. Their ministry also offers disciple-making resources like One-To-One Disciple-Making in partnership with Multiplication Ministries. Sheila has a passion for God’s Word and shares what God is teaching her on her blog, The Way of The Word. Connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.