“What is Mission?” (Matthew 28:18-20)

bible missionary

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Today, I’d like to talk about “mission” with you. Before Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He spoke about mission, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. It says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

This is known as the “Great Commission.” Brothers and sisters, do you know what the Great Commission is? It’s Jesus’ mandate for discipleship. It’s the supreme command, the greatest command that must be obeyed without exception. It is sort of like Jesus’ last will.

Interestingly enough, when we carefully read the Great Commission, we can realize that it’s “Jesus’ missional mandate.” So, the Great Commission and Jesus’ missional mandate are essentially the same. Mission is universal. Mission is Jesus’ absolute command for all who believe in Him and follow Him. So, living in Japan doesn’t exempt us from doing missions. We might say, “Japan is one of the mission fields. We don’t need to go to foreign countries and make disciples of foreign nations.” Nope! We as Jesus’ disciples should do missions, too.

Brothers and sisters, I want you to pay attention to the expression “make disciples of all nations” in this Great Commission. I want you to underline it. Highlight it. Especially, circle the words “all nations.”

Jesus wants us to make disciples of all nations, not focusing on a specific ethnic group but commanding us to disciple people from every nation. That’s why churches engage in both local evangelism and global missions. In that sense, IBF Church is an ideal church—a missional church. So, every church should be mission-oriented. Every church should be missional. Otherwise, churches will eventually fade away. They can’t be sustainable.

Now, what do you think mission means? What does mission mean to you? As you know, I am a missionary, having spent 14 years doing mission work in Japan since 2011. Through first-hand experience, I’ve come to understand what mission means. Brothers and sisters, what do you think mission means? If you had to define “mission” in one word, what would it be? I want to define mission as love. LOVE. So, to do missions means to love. Is love the essence of mission? Yes!

Christianity is often referred to as the “religion of love” But some people perceive it as the “religion of law.” It is because there are lots of laws in the Bible. Approximately, how many laws in the Old Testament? 613 laws. How many laws in the New Testament? Approximately, 1,050 laws in the New Testament.The Bible contains a total of 1,663 commandments or laws. In that sense, Christianity seems to be a religion of law.

But, the deeper we study the Bible, the more we realize that Christianity is ultimately the “religion of love.” Believe it or not, the 1,663 commandments can be summarized into two laws. We can put the 1,663 commandments into 2 boxes. What are the 2 laws?

Let us go to Matthew 22:37. It says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.” Simply put, the Bible is a book about love. We have the vertical love for God. We have the horizontal love for the people around us. The Bible is a love story between the triune God and humans.

So, when someone asks us about who we are, when someone asks us about our identity, we can say that we are the people who love. To be a Christian is to love God. To be a Christian is to love oneself. To be a Christian is to love one’s neighbor.

Let us go back to the title of today’s sermon. Brothers and sisters, what did I say mission is? Mission is love. Doing missions is loving people. Doing missions is loving all nations, not just our own ethnic groups. Mission is to share God’s love with all nations.

Brothers and sisters, are you keeping God’s laws? Are you doing missions? In other words, are you practicing love? If you are reaching out to those with different languages and cultures to share God’s love, you are considered to be keeping God’s laws. Good job!

Brothers and sisters, what is love? Have you experienced it? Have you ever loved someone? Personally, I believe love is “interest.” Love is sort of like having a deep interest in someone, wanting to know more about them. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. We cannot say, “I don’t need love.” We need love in our lives.

The Bible teaches that God has our best interests at heart. And God knows every detail of our lives. Psalm 139:1-4 says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”

God loves you. Because God loves you, He has a special interest in you and a deep knowledge of you. God’s love is expressed through a deep understanding and interest in us. Love is not just an emotion but a profound connection. Mission is an act of love. It involves loving our neighbors, especially those with different languages, ethnicities, and cultures. Mission means making an effort to understand and meet the specific needs of people who are different from us. It’s about showing interest and filling their needs.

Moreover, the starting point of doing missions is opening our hearts. It’s showing interest in our neighbors. It’s giving our hearts to them. If we claim to love our spouses, but don’t open our hearts to them, it’s a lie. In the same way, saying we love our children without giving our hearts to them is also deceptive.

Brothers and sisters, when we truly love someone, a “heart to share” emerges. How can you know if you genuinely love a boyfriend or girlfriend? Check if you have a strong desire to share everything with them, especially your heart with them. When we experience God’s true and complete love, we transform into “people of love.” Love compels us to share. I believe all of you are the people of love. Don’t you want to share with your neighbors? If so, what can you share? I’d like to mention three things for you.

Number one, we need to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s about proclaiming the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and anyone who believes in Him receives salvation from sin, death, hell, Satan, and God’s wrath, living eternally with Jesus in happiness.

Number two, we need to share our faith. We need to share how we came to believe in Jesus with our neighbors. We also need to share what God has done for us and what God has given us in our lives with the people of us.

Number three, we need to share our lives. This means sharing our talents, gifts, experiences, wisdom, knowledge, time, finances, and possessions that God has entrusted to us.

Now, you do understand what “mission” is all about. Right? It’s about loving our neighbors, showing interest in them, and sharing the gospel, faith, and life with them. Brothers and sisters, who are your neighbors? You don’t have to go far; your neighbors are right beside you. Let’s first love one another within our IBF church. Share the gospel, faith, and life with our church members. Share our talents, gifts, experiences, wisdom, knowledge, time, finances, and possessions with each other. This is the beginning of mission work at IBF church. Let us pray.