“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34)
Sometimes we can be tempted to pit the need to be on mission with the study of God’s word. We feel as though we either need to focus our attention as a group on evangelism or we need to be serious about God’s word, so that we can be motivated and focused on one or the other. But our primary focus in both is not self-motivation but the worship of God. Jesus said this in his encounter to the woman of Samaria at the well, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. Reference is made here not only to “God,” but to the “Father.” The Father is seeking such people to worship him. This is personal.
As Michael Reeves states in his book ‘delighting in the Trinity,’
“Evangelism or being on mission is not, then that God lounges back in heaven, simply phoning in his order so that we get on with evangelism so that he might get more servants. If that were the case, evangelism would take a lot of self-motivation-and you can always tell when the church thinks like that, for that’s when evangelism gets left to the more adrenaline-stoked salespeople/professionals.” But the reality is so different.
“To be on mission means to share in doing the Father’s will. God is already on mission, and has sent his Son and his Spirit to do accomplish His mission. So we share in this mission when we go outside the camp and join Jesus in reconciling sinners to the Father (Heb 13:12-13).”
So what’s the motivation? Why did the Father send the Son?
Because the Father so enjoyed loving the Son that he wanted his love to be in others. John 17:25-26 says, “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
The Son came to make the Father known; a Father that loved him.
And why did the Son go?
Because, he says, I love the Father and…I do exactly what my Father has commanded me (John 14:31).
Mission comes from the overflow of love, from the uncontainable enjoyment of the fellowship between the Father and the Son.
Why then do we need the Spirit?
The Spirit enables us to share in their pleasure, and it is that delight in them that fuels us to want to make them known. We rely on the Spirit, not as a force, but as a person. As we relate and rely on him and turn from our sin that he illumines to us, we have our attention drawn to the love of the Father given to us in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Father’s gift to us, the seal of his eternal favor toward us (2 Cor 1:22). And so when we meet together we must ask the Spirit to draw us to have our love rekindled for the Father and the Son. If we are treasuring Jesus Christ we know the Spirit is at work in us, since he works to create in us the same desires as our heavenly Father, who also treasures Him above all others (John 6:27).
The Puritan Richard Sibbes once said that a Christian singing God’s praises to the world is like a bird singing. Birds sing loudest, he said, when the sun rises and warms them; and so it is with Christians: when they are warmed by the Light of the world, by the love of God in Christ, that is when they sing loudest.
He writes, “as the shining of the sun enlarges the spirit of the poor creatures, the birds, in the spring time, to sing, so proportionably the apprehension of the sweet love of God in Christ enlarges the spirit of a man, and makes him full of joy and thanksgiving. He breaks forth into joy, so that his whole life is a matter of joy and thanksgiving.”
It’s not and either/or but a matter of worship. Worship is the goal of our bible study and the motive for our witness. I continue to be in prayer that the Spirit might give us such a rich relationship with the Father and the Son so that we might live among our neighbors, work colleagues, friends and family in this way.