Do you remember being 7 years old? Most of us can.
I have a 7 year old — and there’s a sense in which I would much rather spend time with 7 year olds than 37 year olds, because the thing about kids at that age is that they are full of life and they are so incredibly full of hope! They aren’t jaded and cynical like a lot of adults you meet.
And one of the ways you see that hope, is how every child loves stories about HEROIC quests! About ADVENTURES — about SAVING THE WORLD
World-Saving Missions — that’s what all the great stories are about! The movies, the books, the fairy tales which most excite you — that’s what they’re all about: World-Saving Missions!
And children innately love and believe in world-saving missions, and when they think about their own future and what they want to do when they grow up — they think of it in terms of MISSION!
Earlier this year, my son had his Kindergarten graduation. And during that ceremony, each of the kids talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. And you know, not one of them said: “I’m probably just going to work in data entry! I’m hoping to sit in front of a computer all day, in an office, pushing papers… If I get lucky, I’ll get my own cubicle…” No! It was: “I want to be a doctor! I want to be a soldier! I want to be a firefighter, a police officer” — one kid said he wants to be President!
Do you see how their focus is: “I’m going to make a difference! I’m going to HELP PEOPLE! I’m going to change things! I’m going to make things RIGHT!”
These children see their future in terms of mission!
And why do you think they want to help people and save the world? Because there is JOY in that!
You see — there is a link between Joy and Mission. Mission is a requirement for joy!
And as we grow up — throughout our teenage years, and into our twenties — high school, college — we hold onto this ideal, of doing something significant to change the world and make things better! Many people I know chose their major in college because they wanted to make an impact for good in the world! They had a desire to bring healing and justice and love and peace to the world! People who study to become teachers or pastors — they didn’t do it to get rich! All the teachers I know — they went into that profession because they wanted to make an impact – to change lives!
But what happens? We see all these adults, running the rat race, but they have no joy in it… They’ve got all the stuff — the house, the cars… but they’ve got not joy. And the reason they lack joy, is because they don’t have a Mission!
In our culture, when you become an adult — you are sold this philosophy which says that idealism and dreams of saving the world are fine for kids — but now it’s time to grow up. And in the real world, all that really matters is your own personal fulfillment and comfort. And a lot of people buy into that, and they trade that mission of changing the world and making a difference, for this new goal of Personal Fulfillment.
But the problem is: When you have no higher cause than making yourself happy and comfortable, then you no longer have a mission; you no longer have anything to live for or to die for or to sacrifice for — except yourself… And when you don’t have a mission, you don’t have joy, because mission is a requirement for joy.
A lot of people are lacking joy, because they are lacking mission. You need a mission! You are BUILT for mission! And when you are living for yourself, you have no mission — and inevitably you will lack joy, because having a mission is a necessary requirement for you to have joy!
Jesus says that very thing, in John 17 — as he sends his disciples out on mission. In John 17:13, Jesus says that he wants his disciples to have the JOY that he has. And that’s why he prays in Vs 18: So, just as you (Speaking to the Father) sent me into the world, so I am sending them into the world. Jesus is saying: “Father, I want my followers to have the same JOY that I have — so, in order that they might have my JOY, I’m giving them my Mission!”
In Hebrews 12:2, we read this incredible statement: it says there that for the joy that was set before him, Jesus him endured the cross, despising the shame. Jesus endured the cross for you. He bore your sin and your shame. That’s the story of the Cross. But this verse takes us behind the scenes. To where God the Father came to the Son and said: “I’m sending you on a Mission! A mission to bring truth and life and salvation to the world that is just broken and dying under the curse of sin and death! And you’re going to go and save them! But it’s going to cost you everything! You’re going to have to take all the punishment, and all the suffering — and it’s all going to fall upon you. And it’s going to crush you! It’s going to tear you to pieces… But as a result, people are going to be saved. Lives are going to be transformed and set free – forever! You’re going to redeem them.”
And as Jesus considered that mission — consider both the cost and the pay-off of this mission — His heart was filled with one thing: JOY! It was the JOY of knowing the final outcome, which carried Him through the difficult times — that made him able to endure the cross and bear the shame. And so Jesus says: I want other people to have MY JOY — and so I’m sending them out on mission — so that they might have fullness of joy.
The reason many people lack joy in their lives is because they are living only for themselves! They have no mission, they have no higher commitment than themselves.
The irony is: The more significance you give to yourself — the less significant your life will actually be. The more you live for yourself — the less you will make a difference and have an impact in the world!
But Jesus says: “I’m giving you a mission! And if you accept this mission, God will use you to bring truth and life and salvation and redemption into the World. Yes, there will be a cost! It will cost you time and energy and resources to fulfill this calling and do this mission. It may even cost you your whole life! But it is something which is worth living for and dying for and sacrificing for — because there is nothing more important in the world, than this mission.”
You need a mission. It’s a fundamental human need. It’s a basic requirement for joy. And the Mission of God is the only mission which is legitimately worth giving everything for, because it is the only mission which actually has the potential to save the world.
[This is an excerpt from a message titled “A Mission from God”, the whole of which can be listened to here]