by Zach Simons
Recently Aly and I saw what feels like the eleventeenth installment of the Mission: Impossible movie franchise (it was actually the 5th, but fret not - number 6 is in production). After two hours of complete anxiety and stress, I began to ask myself why we are so drawn to spy thrillers. Clearly there is some draw to the concept of a difficult mission, but what is it exactly? As each Mission: Impossible movie opens, the agent is given a particular mission or task. The mission is specific and focused, and it’s the story of carrying this mission out that draws excited crowds into the theater. However the mission is almost never the goal itself. The goal is usually something greater - like preserving America’s safety. But the mission is the means by which this goal is achieved. So it is with the mission of the church.
The mission of God’s church is to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [he has commanded us]” (Matt 28:18-20). However, this is not the goal of the church. It is our mission, but our mission is the means by which we achieve a greater goal: the genuine worship of (surrendering of everything to) God. John Piper says that,"Missions exists because worship doesn't." We share the gospel of Jesus Christ with our community because it is the means by which others become worshipers of the one true God. Of course, "worship" here is in a broader sense than when referring to only our Sunday gatherings, but it most definitely includes them. Worship is the work of acknowledging the greatness of our covenant Lord. The mission of the church exists because, in much of our community, this acknowledgment of God's greatness does not.
A seminary professor of mine named John Frame says it like this:
"Redemption is the means; worship is the goal. In one sense, worship is the whole point of everything. It is the purpose of history, the goal of the whole Christian story. Worship is not one segment of the Christian life among others. Worship is the entire Christian life, seen as a priestly offering to God. And when we meet together as a church, our time of worship is not merely a preliminary to something else; rather, it is the whole point of our existence as the body of Christ." - Worship in Spirit & Truth
We strive not to confuse our goal with the means to reach it. The mission of the church is more appealing than the plot of any spy thriller, but only because the end goal of worshiping the one true God is so gloriously wonderful.
Let that sink in a bit. Ponder how amazing it is that you have been shown the grace in Jesus Christ to experience the purpose for which you were created: to worship your creator God and know him as your covenant Lord.