My task as a missionary is simple: to be a reflection of God’s glory in a culture which is not my own.* And I’m thankful my responsibilities are small and narrow, because I bring so very little to the table. To point others to the infinite worth of God is a job description I can appreciate and, hopefully, accomplish.
I’ve recently been studying the glory of God. One day I began my reading in the first verse of 2 Corinthians 4:
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
And I thought to myself, “Wait, what ministry?” So I looked back in the previous chapter:
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Corinthians 3:18 (bolds mine)
My job isn’t to advance the kingdom? My task isn’t to save the lost? My ministry is merely to reflect the glory of God? And I continued reading:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- The glory of God is already present in all the earth. It is only a knowledge of his glory that is lacking.
- I am not expected to create God’s glory in my host culture. Neither is it my responsibility to bring his glory to the people group residing there. I am merely meant to point others to the glory of God which is already present in that place. I help them recognize something that is already there.
- It is only by God’s power and goodness that I have the ability to reflect his glory. He has made his light to shine in my heart.
- Satan is responsible for having hidden God’s glory from those who do not recognize it. Missions, then, is largely about spiritual warfare with Satan. We do not do well when we ignore what we may be unable to see.
- Christ is described as being “the image of God.” He is my model for reflecting God’s glory, as he is the ultimate reflection of God’s glory in the flesh.
- The glory of God is good news to unbelievers. This is one that stands out to me. In many ways, it’s offensive to unbelievers for me to point them to the glory of God; I’m (in essence) telling them that all they currently believe is worthy of praise is actually of no worth when compared with the God who is of infinite worth. But, as offensive as it may be to hear that what they’ve been glorifying deserves no glory, this is the gospel message. That God deserves all glory is the good news. Only when we learn to properly ascribe value can we truly live. The good news is that when and where God is glorified, life is made right.
- As a missionary, I am a servant to those in my host culture. BUT I am a servant ultimately for Jesus’ sake — and not for those who would receive my service. Service in which the recipient is the point and end goal is not only shortsighted, but it nurtures the recipient’s already wrong belief that he is the center of the universe. Because we treat him as such. Service to others is about demonstrating that only God is worthy of glory.