“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
In His encounter with Zacchaeus, Jesus defines His purpose in coming to the earth. His was a mission, given to Him by His Father, to search after and find those who were lost as He had described in His parables earlier in Luke 15. While our Lord completed His work of redeeming His people when He ascended to the Father’s right hand, He still carries out His mission today.
In our world today where we have our own followers on social media and we have crafted our own personal mission statements, it is easy for us to get confused about mission. Consider these words from missiologist Georg F. Vicedom, “The mission, and with it the church, is God’s very own work. We cannot speak of ‘the mission of the church,’ or even less of ‘our mission.’ Both the church and the mission have their source in the loving will of God. Therefore we can speak of church and mission always only with the understanding that they are not independent entities. Both are only tools of God, instruments through which God carries out His mission. The church must first in obedience fulfill His missionary intention. Only then can she speak of her mission, since her mission is then included in the mission Dei…Hence the church is not called on to decide whether she will carry on the mission or not. Se can only decide for herself whether she wants to be church.” This means that there are no institutional mission statements or strategies that are not viewed first as part of Christ’s mission to seek and to save the lost.
For Christ continues to seek and to save the lost today. He just does it today through the lowly, earthly means of people like us, just as He did when He sent out the twelve to the lost sheep of Israel. It is still Christ mission for He was sent by the Father to seek and to save the lost. And He continues to carry out that mission through His church today. Congregations and people do not come up with their own missions, but rather they participate in Christ’s mission. Each Sunday morning and other times throughout the week, nearly three congregations across Missouri receive a benediction that is also a sending. The Lord Christ sends forth His Body, the Church, into the communities and even across the globe as He continues to carry out His mission to seek and to save the lost through us. We never disconnect what we do from Christ’s mission, nor do we see mission as optional, but that which Christ accomplishes through His Word that enlivens and emboldens ordinary servants to be those sent by God as part of His mission. God does not need us to carry out His mission. But what an incredibly humbling and thrilling thing it is to know that the Son of Man, who came to seek and to save the lost, chooses to work through sinners like us to be part of His mission today.
Prayer – Almighty God, You sent Your Son into the world to seek and to save the lost. In these dark and latter days, help us to see that as Your Word is proclaimed through Your Church and as the Church is sent out into the world, that You are carrying out Your mission. Grant to us humility and zeal as we participate in Your mission, bearing Your Word to the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan