Anyone who knows me is aware that my passion for some time has been international missions. There are a lot of people all over the world who haven’t heard the Good News, or if they have, then it hasn’t been in a format to which they can relate effectively, and I plan to be involved in the endeavor to reach them with the Good News in a way they can understand and respond to.
Lot of Christians think that the Great Commission was God’s first official sending-out of believers to tell unevangelized people about Christ. That’s true to a certain extent, but his plan to redeem the nations is found throughout the Bible, starting in Genesis 12. Since today’s psalm is a favorite among missions-minded believers, let’s see what we can learn from it.
First, we need to understand the ultimate purpose for our blessings. Note the phrasing of the first two verses: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” America, as I’ve mentioned before, is by far the richest and most prosperous nation in human history. Our poor people tend to have a weight problem. Immigrants risk their lives everyday in order to share in our prosperity. And why has God blessed us so much? Just so we can enjoy it? No, so that we can use those blessings to bring knowledge of him to the world.
Second, we need to understand the ultimate purpose for missions. This might shock you, but the ultimate reason you were saved was not for your own sake. Yes, God loves us and doesn’t want us to go to hell, but that’s not the primary reason why we were saved. The primary reason why you were saved was to bring glory to God. In other words, it’s not all about you. And as a corollary to this, what’s the primary purpose for missions? As John Piper once put it, missions exists because worship does not. Yes, we want to see people saved from eternal darkness, but we must fix in our mind that the reason why we’re doing all of this is to recruit worshipers.
Third, we need to see the ultimate turnaround. Did you notice how the psalm ends? When all the nations are worshiping the Lord as he deserves, then "[The] land yields its harvest, and God, our God, blesses us. May God bless us still, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.” Once the “peoples” start worshiping God the way he deserves, then the blessings will flow back to us. It’s like the opposite of a vicious cycle; more like a blessed cycle, so to speak.
Let’s get practical for a moment. We’ve been at war with some segments of the Muslim world for several years now. I’m not against defending ourselves, but I'd submit that the only thing that will bring peace to the Middle East (and thus benefit us) would be the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once peoples’ hearts get changed by the Prince of Peace, then real and lasting change can result.
So the question is, what part in all this will you play in all this? What’s your focus?
Father God, you have given the nations to your Son as an inheritance, and I want to play a part in helping him claim that. Show me what to do, and I’ll do it.