The Joy of Sharing in His Mission
There are times when grasping a single thought makes a profound difference in our lives. A number of years ago, I sat in a ministerial meeting with some of my colleagues. The discussion turned to sharing our faith, witnessing, and evangelism. One of my friends expressed this thought, “Mission is primarily the work of God. He is employing all of the resources of heaven to save our planet.
Our work is to cooperate joyfully with Him in His work of saving lost people”. It seemed as if a heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. It was not my job to save a lost world. It was God’s. My responsibility was to cooperate with Him in what He was already doing.
The idea that mission is God’s work is clarified throughout Scripture. Solomon states it this way, “He [God] has put eternity in their hearts” (Eccles. 3:11, NKJV). When an individual is born into this world, God places a desire for eternity deep within the fabric of that person’s being. As Augustine once said, “Lord, we were made for thee, and our hearts will never find rest until they find rest in thee”. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus is the light that lights every person born into this world (John 1:9). Not only has God placed within each one of us a longing for Himself, He sends His Holy Spirit to draw us to Himself.
Every desire to do right, every conviction of sin, is prompted by the Holy Spirit. Every desire for goodness and inclination toward kindness and unselfishness is motivated first by the Holy Spirit. Even though we may not fully understand or realize it, the Holy Spirit is working in our lives to draw us to Jesus (John 16:7-15). But Jesus Himself is the greatest gift of all.
When the human race was hopelessly lost in sin, condemned to eternal death, the love of God took the initiative. Luke writes, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, NKJV). The apostle Paul adds, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, NKJV). God took the initiative in our salvation. Christ left the glory and splendor of heaven and came to this sin-darkened world on a redemptive mission.
Before we ever took one baby step toward Him, He took a giant leap toward us. Before we ever gave Him our life, He provided salvation to us through His death. We were His enemies, but He was our friend. We turned our backs on Him, but He turned His face toward us. We cared little for Him, but He cared immensely for us.
In Luke 15, He is pictured as the good shepherd relentlessly looking for His lost sheep, a woman frantically looking for her lost silver coin from her dowry, and an old father recklessly running to meet His lost boy. Ellen G. White makes this marvelous statement worth contemplating: “The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. Christ did not stand alone in this wondrous undertaking for the ransom of man. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him”. — Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 15, 1898.
Contemplate it for a moment. We have the incredible privilege and the awesome responsibility, as well as the eternal joy of participating with Christ and cooperating with Him in His mission. That’s what these lessons are all about this quarter.
A native of Connecticut, USA, Mark Finley, an internationally known evangelist, was a vice president at the General Conference from 2005-2010. After retiring from full-time employment, he became an assistant to the president of the General Conference. Pastor Finley and his wife, Ernestine, have three children and five grandchildren.