Winter is one of my favourite times of the year. I love the rain and lying awake at night listening to it on the roof. I’m always left with a reflective attitude and although I fully intended to sleep when I got home from youth tonight, tonight I have decided to lie awake and reflect, bringing my thoughts into words here.
At youth, we do a song by Hillsong Young and Free called “End of Days”. It’s a thought that’s been circulating around in my mind these last few days around the end of days, around the end goal of God for that day to come. The bridge of this song says “I’ll lift Your name higher and higher. I’ll sing Your praise louder and louder. Your love goes deeper and deeper. You reign for ever and ever”. I remember standing in worship to this song tonight and just being blown away by the truth behind this. This is what we will be doing from the end of days throughout all of eternity – we will be lifting high the name of Christ, singing and praising, in the depth of His love and under the length of His reign.
In all of the book of Revelation, not much is clear. Revelation 7:9-12 tells us:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.””
But out of all the uncertainty to be found in the apocalyptic literature, I am certain of this: the end goal of God for the coming end of days is worship. It’s the praise of His glorious name by those saved by His glorious grace. It’s the gathering of all peoples from all nations (see: Panta ta ethne – people groups) into His perfect kingdom before the throne of the Lamb.
In the last year, as many people will know I’ve been thinking a lot on missions. My time in Nepal and my time studying at bible college (with about 5 years to go) have provided insight and vision for the direction of my life into this field. I am continuously drawn onto thoughts into the means, the passion and the purposes behind mission. The reason why we give up our lives and go out into the mission field, when all is at stake and it can cost you everything.
Worship of the Lamb is the goal of God in the gathering of all nations to the throne. So, it would make sense that one of the things that drive mission is a passion for the worship of the name of Jesus. If we have a name so supremely wonderful and immensely powerful as that of Jesus, a name so worthy of our worship and a name deserving of the worship of all peoples for all time, our drive for the mission field is our passion for the worship of His name. John Piper in his book “Let the Nations be Glad” puts it best:
“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.”
Missions has an expiration date – it will finish where the Great Commission given by Christ comes to an end. Worship is going to be eternal, as the goal of God and the end of missions.
It would make sense that missions be driven by worship, but it would also make sense that the cause of missions (or abolition, alleviation, social justice etc) be just as driven by love. It’s not selfish ambition or worldly desires that drive people forward in the cause of Christ’s commission – because selfish ambition and worldliness will not draw you or sustain you when you know the chances of getting bed bugs, malaria, hard floors, incredibly sick and having to chlorinate all your water are quite high. It’s a love for God and a love for people who do not yet know Him, a love that draws us to desire their worship of Him supremely deserving of our worship.
To draw again on John Piper,
“If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.”
How much joy there will be on that day to see the faces of those who came to know Christ on account of His work through you around the throne. This time last year, I was absolutely freaking out about this whole mission thing – but now I stand undaunted, excited and unafraid. There are risks, there are dangers and there are fears, but the need is great (to the tune of 3 billion unreached people who have not heard the name of Jesus once). To echo the words of Paul in Romans 10, “How are they to believe if they haven’t heard?”
“Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity.”
Oh that we would be a people intentionally living for Him in this life, that we would be prepared to see the lost reached in our own homes and city, and should God call us abroad, to go sacrificially and willingly for the praise of His glorious name amongst all the people groups across all the nations.