To many, the first years of our movement seem like a tale taken out of a legend of heroes. We look back on the past with rose-tinted eyes; the years when 100 people would be baptized at once or the years when a church would double or triple in a single year.
While we should honor the faithfulness of our brothers and sisters in the past and praise God for what He has done for us, we need to be careful of having anything but a Biblical interpretation of it all. If you talk to anyone who was baptized in the early years of our movement, they’ll probably tell you that God was behind it all, and that while they didn’t know what they were doing, they wholeheartedly served God and God blessed them. This view of the past is Biblical and God-honoring.
In the same way, especially when it comes to thinking about going on a mission, we ought to have a Biblical view of things. We need to strive to have Biblical expectations for what we will face on the mission.
Often times when considering going on a One Year Challenge, brothers and sisters may have varying expectations as to what they will face.
They may think “It’s going to be hard, because I hear that people in said country are not open” and be discouraged or feel afraid.
Or they may also think “It’s going to be great! I’m going to be fruitful!” and go to their OYC site with soaring expectations, only to be let down by the realities of ministry.
While some parts of these expectations are indeed Biblical – that going on a mission is difficult, but it can be great and extremely rewarding – these thoughts are not fully based on the Bible.
Here are some Biblical expectations that we can have about the mission:
- The Fields Are Ripe with Harvest (John 4:35)
What’s remarkable about Jesus’ words in this passage, is that he was looking over the Samaritan countryside. You could say that that land was barren in two ways: one, that it was rural, probably with very little people (recall that the Samaritan woman had to go into the city to bring people to Jesus), and two, that he was looking at Samaria. The long historical hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans didn’t hinder Jesus’ view that the Gospel could flourish there. Jesus determined that a message, coming out of the mouth of a Jewish Rabbi, could not only impact the long hated Samaritans, but also the despised Gentiles and the whole world. Ultimately, this is because our message is God’s message. Let’s be weary of saying things like “people just aren’t open these days.” If Jesus said that even the Samaritan’s were “ready for harvest”, we should have the same view of our harvest fields too.
- Those Who Sow with Tears, Will Reap with Songs of Joy (Psalm 126:5)
No doubt, making disciples can be difficult and painful. The Bible’s farming analogies are appropriate, because they convey the experience of mission work realistically. In this Psalm, the scriptures tell us that there will be tears. As a farmer struggles for his harvest, many of us will face tremendous challenge against the ruler of the world to save some. We will hurt for deeply for those who reject our message, and we will mourn for people who abandon it. But the scriptures also promise that we will reap with songs of joy. The scriptures tell us of the reality that a big harvest is indeed coming. Not only will it be joyous, but also that when the day comes our hearts will be bursting with song.
- We are Receiving a Kingdom that Cannot Be Shaken
If you read just above the cited passage in Hebrews, you’ll see that God promises to shake away things that can be shaken away. God has indeed shaken us. The storm in 2003 (as most of us call it) was a time of God’s disciplining, but also a time when God shook away impurities from our hearts. He shook away our pride, our insincerity and our worldliness. And in some ways He still shakes us today. Yet what will remain is the Kingdom of God. What cannot be shaken is the Kingdom of God. Brothers and sisters, we can take courage knowing that through all of God’s discipline, what will remain is His kingdom. Our battle isn’t futile. What God builds through us will last forever.
Let’s have Biblical expectations for the mission. Let’s have Biblical expectations for the harvest. And with eyes wide open, let’s submit ourselves in faith to God’s mission.