“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
The end of the church year always directs the vision of the saints towards Jesus’ return in glory. With our eyes cast towards the heavens (figuratively), it could be easy for God’s people to lose sight of the church’s task here on earth. Anticipation of our Lord’s Second Advent is intended to bring comfort and hope to Christians in the midst of our travails this side of eternity.
But as congregations mark this time in the church year, it is also a call to mission. In his recently released final volume of his Matthew commentary, Jeffrey Gibbs writes, “The import of 24:14 is to teach that Jesus’ church must always be a missionary church” (p. 1261). The Church’s task has always been that of proclamation, both within the assembly and outside to the world. As we wait for Christ’s second coming, we do by going about the work that He has given to His Church. Georg Vicedom wrote in The Mission of God, “Mission is now the activity of the exalted Lord between His ascension and His return. Thus the church has but one assignment: to carry forward the history of salvation through the proclamation of the Perfect One and through the announcement of His kingdom in the gather of His congregation ‘until He comes’” (p. 42).
Ultimately, the Church’s mission is God’s mission. For it is God who sends forth His people into all the world to proclaim the Gospel. He carries out His mission through earthen vessels, sinner-saints, who have been set apart for God’s purposes. As we draw near to the end of the church year, it reminds us of the urgency of this task of God’s mission to proclaim the Gospel as we await Christ’s return. In the words of Dr. Gibbs, may we be “a missionary church” in these dark and latter days as God’s people live as faithful witnesses wherever He places them and to whomever He sends them.
Prayer – Lord God, Heavenly Father, through the work of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Ghost You have established Your Kingdom without our prayers. We pray that You would let Your Kingdom come to us also and make us workers together with You in bringing the Kingdom to others. Put Your Holy Spirit into our hearts that by His grace we may believe Your Holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan