Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Perspectives) is a fifteen week course about the global purpose of Christians, designed around four vantage points or “perspectives” – Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. The course has the objective of opening the eyes of Christians to the vision that God has a “world-size” role for every believer in His global mission. The point of this course is to simply show practical examples of how missions can be done wisely and well, against the background that God will fulfill His promises.
Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3).
I have embarked on the Independent Study Online format of the Perspectives study program and will periodically share a perspective on different lessons.
I have completed the first five lessons. Thank God! They have been very impactful to me and I have chosen to frame this personal review as a reflection around the key words of the lessons: PURPOSE, PASSION, HOPE, MANDATE and WITNESS.
PURPOSE – Purpose can be specific to me, as for a group. It is about the reason God placed me on earth or together with a group. When He did and how He did. All this I believe is tied into a set of activities that I am expected to pursue and accomplish. The lesson’s description of purpose added a new dimension to my use of the word purpose. “The way to live with significance is to devote yourself to a purpose that is larger than your life.” This points to purpose producing significance, with one’s purpose being endowed with a potency of life to flourish in an untended fullness – being blessed. My purpose then is to live a life of significance by acquiring His blessing through Abraham and Jesus Christ, then facilitate others achieving the same.
PASSION – We all need a specific motivation to keep doing what we should in the midst of challenges and distractions. A person with passion is described as a heart set free to pursue that which is truly worthy – God. Passion surpasses human motivation. Steve Hawthorne, (author in Perspectives on World Christian Movement) makes the point that motivation based merely a compassionate response to human need can be limited. He further explains that mission is defined primarily about God’s mission and then secondary as that which brings about something that just benefit people. Wow! This explains why many times in church the fire for evangelism/missions wanes or fails to really get started. Our focus many times is fixed on the people and not the creator. Church leaders must ensure that God is the focus and discuss actions of missions as originating from and sustained by God, who is most worthy.
HOPE – “To hope is not merely to wish for small improvements of personal circumstances. Hope expects all things, large or little to be over whelmed and filled with the immense glory of Christ.” We tend to get excited when we see simple acts coming to pass but fail to hope for the things regarded as impossible. Hope extends to all activities, small things, large things and even missions. Because of our limited hope we tend to fleshly rationalize where it is safe to go with God’s Word. This is limiting God. Faith is defined by Hebrews 11:1 as the confidence that whatever we hope for will come to pass. It means then that our faith cannot extend beyond our hope. It is actually a discipline to cultivate hope in God and as we do that we will have experiences to build on. “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame…” – Romans 5:3b-5.
MANDATE – Being given something to do does not constitute a mandate. The means to accomplish the task must also be given and it must be in pursuit of something of historic importance. Matthew 28:18-20, commonly known as the great commission, is a mandate that Christ expects the Church to finish. The master asks His servant to go to another place and be His physical presence with the gospel. The servants were given the resources they would need and their action would be of great historic importance to mankind. The Great Commission is a mandate and victory is assured. God is looking forward to people of all nations being discipled to live under His Lordship.
WITNESS – This topic caused me to reflect on a missions trip I was a part of to Ethiopia last year. It was my first missions trip and my first time on the African continent. Yes I went to be a witness. In the lesson witness was presented as not just communicating the gospel but living a life of prolonged testimony of Jesus Christ. It is then about who we are far more than the things we say. While there we found it necessary to try to live like the people did as a way of acknowledging their culture. It was difficult but necessary to try live Christ without our western culture. This lead to them being more open to us. They live in thatch roof huts, with only a place to sleep, with no running water or electricity. Our missions team stayed in more modern facilities on the outskirts and travelled daily to the village. This was much more comfortable but I had a slight unsettled feeling, thinking that we should have stayed in their huts. May be I will next time. This lesson taught that missionaries need to operate in ways that the people being visited can learn about Jesus Christ and worship without feeling the need to adapt the missionary’s own culture.
Life’s significance can be found in God’s PURPOSE for us, with His PASSION we can be motivated to HOPE for His immense glory filling the earth, hence we can take His MANDATE knowing that we have the resources we need to victoriously WITNESS to all nations. This to ensure God’s mission of having glory from all nations and tribes.
These lessons have sharpened my focus as a follower of Christ. I now anticipate remaining 10 lessons.
– Garfield Miller, Missionary Society (Jamaica)