To the world, the concept of Christian missions is an endeavor of foolishness mixed with audacity. Because the message of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing the work of missions is also foolish. It is considered to be audacious because many consider it a force that is meant to simply compel conformity to certain truths, laws, and morality. This particular irreverence towards missions sparks memories of Wilhelm Reich who opposed any morality that was both compulsory and against one’s natural inclinations. Many are antagonistic towards Christianity because they maintain a similar mindset (which I previously addressed and you can read about by clicking here). With the prevalence of this mentality, does it negate the validity of missions?
The trend towards relativistic truth has certainly informed and impassioned this movement by indicating that a certain level of morality cannot be attained because there can be no absolute morality. Quite simply, the rationale is that because truth is relative, morality must also be relative. There are three principles that posture this belief as acceptable:
- Truth is Unknowable: The people say there is no absolute truth and therefore a person can only go by what is true for him or her.
- Truth is Unloving: They claim that to assert an absolute truth does exist and is in conflict with one’s personal inclination is unloving.
- Truth is Unattainable: Because there is no existence of truth, is the assertion, there is no way to live by a set truth.
These three principles about truth have undermined the existence any morality concept.
Yet, as Christians, we can make assertions in direct response to each of those principles by noting the following:
- Truth is not Unknowable: First, the truth is not unknowable but has been revealed to us first in God’s Word (John 17:17) and second through God’s Son (Revelation 19:13).
- Truth is not Unloving: The greatest unloving act of all would be to not share truth because it denies person access to God for eternity. We must recognize though, that first, God is love (1 John 4:8) and second that Christ is truth (John 14:6). These two points are important because when we realize that Christ is God, we can then also assert that He is also love. Therefore, truth and love are not separate but are bonded together in the person of Christ.
- Truth is not Unattainable: Finally, because Christ is the consummation of the law, freeing individuals from the bondage of sin and instead towards the ability to obey, we can walk with Him and for Him. Thus, the truth is attainable through His work on the cross and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
We could certainly spend much time expanding each of these points, but my hope is that these simple explanations are sufficient enough to cover the basic points and confirm what is being said.
By nature of what missions it, a sharing of the truth in order to see people reconciled to God, it is confrontational. It also automatically goes against the natural inclination of every human (read Romans 1 in order to understand this point better). Yet, missions is not about a compulsory morality. That is because it is not a message of morality at all. The message is salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Such a heart transformation by the work of the Spirit will produce a level of morality as one is freed to obey God, but it’s not an inclination towards morality that produces a moral lifestyle. Instead, it is an inclination towards loving God and loving others. And so, while some may proclaim Christian missions as a flawed process because it compels conformity to a certain lifestyle, missionaries simply proclaim a confrontational truth that the Spirit utilizes in the conviction of hearts in order to see them transformed towards Christlike living.
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash