Is Your View of Christ’s Mission for You Fuzzy?

Is Your View of Christ’s Mission for You Fuzzy?

How many goals can occupy the position of first in your life? Only one. “If you stay focused on one mission—seeking first Christ’s agenda of righteousness every sphere of your life and world—then,” says Jesus, “everything else will take care of itself.”

This past week, while studying George Barna’s Millennials in America report, I read “One of the most attention-grabbing attributes revealed in this research regarding the Millennial way of life is their widespread desire to identify a purpose for living. Three out of four Millennials are still searching for their purpose in life.” This evidence that Millennials want a life of purpose reminds me of the popularity of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, which has been translated into 137 languages and sold more than 50 million copies. There is weighty evidence that human beings are designed to want a purpose for living. This episode series is designed to help the men listening accomplish exactly what so many Millennials—and so many humans in general want: experiencing the satisfaction and joy of knowing that they are accomplishing the purpose for which they were created. Our goal for this episode is to frame a biblical, one-sentence description of the mission that Christ assigned us—so that we can stay focused upon it.

So far in this series, Don’t Waste Your Life: Rule It for Jesus, we saw that the foundational commitment required to overcome a disordered way of life is the conviction that our inner private world of the spiritual must govern the outer physical world of activity. Then we observed that the only way to connect our everyday lives to God’s mission for us is intentionality. We observed Jesus demonstrating this intentionality by shutting out his outer world and retreating to a quiet place to discuss his mission with his CO, as a regular part of his life. Today we examine a third requirement for staying focused on our mission: mission clarity. A clear target on the wall to aim for is essential for living according to our mission. Fuzziness about our calling is a major cause of inaction. Competing internal drives take us down paths that consume our time and energy. I am reminded of the conversation in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland, between a disoriented Alice and the Cheshire cat. The cat’s sage wisdom is summarized in the famous quote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

Let’s return to football for an analogy. The more I enjoy a son who coaches high school football, the more complicated I realize the offensive and defensive game plans have to be—and that’s just at the high school level! Nevertheless, as complicated as forming a game plan is, at least the mission is clear and simple. In fact, you could state the mission in one sentence. We need to move the football into the opponent’s endzone more times than they move the football into our endzone. Yes, there are extra points, safeties, field goals, and touchdowns. But at least the mission is clear: move the ball downfield on offense and stop them from moving downfield on defense.

What about our mission from Jesus? Is there some way to bring crisp clarity to our target on the wall by stating our mission in one sentence? After all, there are 7957 verses in the NT alone that relate to our mission. No wonder our understanding of it is so fuzzy! I believe Jesus has given us a one-sentence summary of our mission. It is just nine words: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Mt 6:33). I believe this rich sentence is as accurate a description of the Christian’s mission as saying “The object of football is to get the ball into the opponent’s endzone more times than they get the ball into ours” is of the game of football. But Christians today often miss the simplicity and power of this mission summary. Why? Here are three reasons.

1. Many Christians today come from traditions that misunderstand the term kingdom of God. The Bible-believing Christians of the twentieth century in America were significantly shaped by a movement called Dispensationalism, which believed in inerrancy but denied the significance of the created material world, promoted an overly spiritualized Christianity, denied God’s command to Adam and Eve to shape culture (the cultural mandate), and instead urged separation from the “evil” world. Its view of the end times (called Premillennialism) deemphasized the present rule of Christ’s kingdom, teaching instead that Christ’s kingdom does not come until the return of Christ. This view ignored the command to seek the kingdom, because it saw the kingdom as primarily future. It mistakenly understood the words of the Lord’s prayer, “May your kingdom come. May your will be done” to be a request for Jesus to return soon, instead of a request for Christ’s present kingdom of righteousness to spread over the earth. Tim Keller explains:

Some conservative Christians think of the story of salvation as the fall, redemption, heaven. In this narrative, the purpose of redemption is escape from this word; only saved people have anything of value, while unbelieving people in the world are seen as blind and bad. If, however, the story of salvation is creation, fall, redemption, restoration, then things look different. In this narrative, non-Christians are seen as created in the image of God and given much wisdom and greatness within them (cf. Ps. 8), even though the image is defaced and fallen. Moreover, the purpose of redemption is not to escape the world but to renew it…it is about the coming of God’s kingdom to renew all things (“Our New Global Culture: Ministry in Urban Centers” article).

2. The second reason some believers miss the Matt 6:33 summary of our mission is that when they hear seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, they hear this command primarily as the evangelistic call to be saved. Good theology teaches us that the only way any of us is truly righteous is to be “declared righteous,” i.e. justified by God the judge through our faith. We default to thinking that seeking righteousness any other way means pursuing self-righteousness. To seek righteousness feels like moralism to us.

However, and it is a big however, IT IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF WHO COMMANDS US TO SEEK FIRST HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Righteousness (DIKAIOSUNE) in the NT is not just a term to describe our being declared legally righteous by God the judge; it is also the term that describes our sanctification—our character growth into holiness. DIKAIOSUNE is whatever conforms to the moral will of God. It describes right living. It describes what is just, what is wholesome. To pursue righteousness is to pursue wholeness, the restoration of everything on earth broken by sin. It is to make life the way it was supposed to be before Adam and Eve brought sin’s destruction into the world. It is to restore shalom—complete flourishing over every inch of the earth through restored harmony with God, within ourselves, with other humans, and with the material world. Jesus’ mission was not only to justify (declare righteous) the elect; it was also to transform their character and restore wholeness (“rightness”) to his entire, good creation. Seeking righteousness is not moralism; it is our mission!

Read More

Scroll to top