This is quite a sensitive topic, but the correct motivations for sharing the Gospel need to be more than the modish modes of multiplying disciples. I’m sure, if you are a believer in an evangelical church, you have heard of all the heart wrenching stories to go spread the Gospel. If not, you can view one on YouTube. Now, to properly attain formal and informal kerygmata (formal being behind the pulpit, informal being wherever) not only the content of the message, but also the motivations must be valid. In this brief exhortation, I will attempt to carefully expose three major motivations that must not be so.
Doing a brief study of the omniscience of God reveals a humbling and convicting reality: God knows me to the deepest and darkest intent, yet still saved me. This reality is shown especially in Hebrews. The author exegetes Psalm 95:7-11 warning his audience to examine their lives for “unbelief” so that they should enter God’s rest (analogous of salvation).
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV)
Here we see especially that the Word of God (whether it is argued as Christ or the scriptures) shows us and convicts us even of our very intentions. We must be fully convicted that we have truth about God and that others must have truth about God to glorify Him (John 14:6, Eph. 1:3-6). The following idolatrous motivations for missions are proper outcomes of missions, but are out of place in the realm of intentions and ends. In discussing these idols it is important to note these can or will be a means to the end, but they should not be the chief end or the motivation in missions.
The idea that unbelievers need us is an idolatrous motivation that amounts to prideful evangelism. The implications if this idol is trying to become relatable. I have the tendency to exalt my personality over the Word of God and build my own kingdom rather than allowing God’s kingdom to come. In effect, I become a hinderance to God’s kingdom, or the donkey God uses despite of fallaciousness. Also, this implies the Word of God is not relatable enough. As seen in the Hebrews passage above, te Word of God is very relatable and can have the tendency to be hated due to what it reveals. However, under the trance of they need us, we lessen the blow of the two edged sword.
Salvation is completely God’s work, yet this does not lessen our responsibility in anyway. Missions does indeed require “us”, but it in no way should be motivated by “they need us” mentality.
Most Seeker friendly churches have widely adopted this idol into the main mode of missions. Making “us” more appealing to grasp the “world” (who supposedly hates the church, or so I thought…). Seeker friendly methodology is sadly self-defeating. First the Bible claims there is no one who seeks for God (Rom 3). Also assimilating people into “church” widely renders them ineffective to the world. This makes evangelism into inviting people to church rather than sharing the Gospel of Christ.
Martyrdom is often praised and exalted in American Christendom to the point of transcendence. The lofty idea of being a martyr so confounds the freedom and relativism of America. However given the example of the majority of the Apostles, and the strong commands of the cost of discipleship, one would assume martyrdom would be commonplace in a culture that does not widely hold to Christianity. The command to “not be surprised when the world hates you” (1 Jn. 3:13) seems to have become the opposite. In turn, people desire to improperly give their life away for the sake of Christ. The problem is, unbelievers do not need our sacrifices, they need truth. This idol creates loose orthodoxy, no conviction, and no knowledge of God. This idol also opens the path for every other idol of methodology in missions. If one simply wants to go out and make himself a sacrifice for Christ then he need nothing more than what he already has. If he need nothing more, there’s no point in reading the Word, praying, practicing any spiritual discipline, or even continuing in sanctification. Sacrifice cannot be the chief end, but it could be the means to the end.
3. The Reap of the Harvest
The use of this as a motivation can prove disastrous in a multiplicity of ways. Going out to preach Christ simply that others are saved misses something greater and higher. Going out simply for the “reap of the harvest” brings one to the broad road of easy believeism which leads to destruction. Microwave proselytizing puts people in the eternal oven. Evangelism is not seeing people come to an alter, repeating a prayer, or reading a tract. Evangelism is seeing people’s lives altered, crying out prayers to God in repentance, reading the Bible fully convicted of what needs to be done. How dare us lead people through a decision and tell them that some process is the assurance of their salvation! We might as well tell them to go to hell if that’s our tactic. Christ has saved every human being that is currently breathing (not in an eternal sense) for the very purpose that we might toil and strive (1 Tim 4:10); not so we can send them to the McEvangelism drive-thru.
So what is the proper motivation and end? The praise, glory, magnification of The Lord our God. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV) notice how this passage begins and ends: God is in a blessed state and to the praise of his glorious grace he blesses us. The very idea of salvation all goes back to praising God, his magnification, making Him known. Why? Because He is worth it. When we evangelize for the purpose of making God known, we do not fall into the idols enumerated above. I apologize for the overall negative approach to this post; however, due to my lack of knowledge, I do not know how to bring about the specific presuppositional missiological idols from the positive. I pray that this can edify the saints regardless of my imperfect methodology. soli Deo omnis gloria