Missionary God
John Telgren

What is our mission? In our English Bibles, the word mission only appears once in reference to a missionary journey that Paul and Barnabas took. As far as an overarching mission, that particular word does not appear. However, there are a couple of other words with the same idea that appear regularly throughout the New Testament. They are the words, "purpose" and "predestined." Here is a sampling of some of the verses that use these words.

"But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose" (Lk 4:43).

"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (Jn 12:27).

"…for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls" (Rom 9:11)

"…but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory" (1 Cor 2:7).

"For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification" (1 Thess 4:7).

"He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (Eph 1:5).

"…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11).

What these passages demonstrate is that God has a mission. It is what has shaped the relationship between God and humans for thousands of years. From the beginning, God has planned, strategized, and worked his mission in the world.

Theologians and missiologists often refer to our God as a "missionary" God. This stems from theological reflection on the triune nature of our God. The Father sends the Son into the world with a mission. The Son sends the Holy Spirit with a mission. The Holy Spirit empowers the Church for her mission. As a result, we do not decide arbitrarily what our mission will be as if we were a human institution. As the "body of Christ," our mission is an extension of the mission of God, which is larger than any one congregation.

Paul understood this. This is why he writes:

"To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph 3:8-11).

Paul's mission stems from the mission of God. Like his Lord Jesus, he had no trouble identifying, communicating, and carrying out his personal mission and what it should look like wherever he went. It shaped his life, direction, goals, and plans. The question for us should be, "What should the mission of God look like here in Leavenworth and what is our part in it?"