Sent to Serve
The book “God Who Sends” continues to help me as I think about the mission in which the church participates. God’s mission existed prior to the church, as we can see when reading the whole of the Old Testament, and has been assigned as the primary work of the church, as seen in reading the whole of the New Testament. Dubose’s book is one that I highly recommend you read and one that I plan to read again this year. As the New Year has begun, I thought it appropriate to share this passage from the chapter “Ministry: Sent to Serve” in order to keep our minds focused on the task at hand.
There is a basic twofold content to mission in the final New Testament sense: evangelism and service. As evangelism is essentially “telling,” so service is essentially “doing.” Both have their basis in “being,” as the nature of Christian existence moves from an inward compulsion to an outward expression of word and work. This fundamental truth has its origin in the heart of God. W. O. Carver well states that the ultimate origin of mission is in the heart of God.1 Out of the benevolent and redemptive nature of the God who sends comes his mission to mankind in word and deed. Jesus is the classic model. He expressed his self-identity in terms of his life’s mission. His very existence is from the Father who sent him, and he expressed the meaning of that existence in terms of the words and work which the Father had sent him to do. Receiving our mission from the mission of Christ, we are sent both to tell and to do. As evangelism is the telling of the good news, so it is witness to the work of God in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. Likewise as service or ministry is the doing of good deeds reflective of God’s redemptive nature within us, so it is witness to that benevolent and redemptive nature of God.
1. William Owen Carver. Missions in the Plan of the Ages (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1952), p. 12,13.