“Mission” as a theme is in decline in the church today. Christian “mission” is also a controversial topic among Christians. Many hold to the view of the church’s mission is better expressed as “social justice” or working for the holistic good of society.
The fundamental question is: What shapes our thoughts on Christian mission? The state of the world (or country) or God’s word? Of course, God’s Word must shape our thinking on all subjects.
3 John 7 gives us a good summary of Christian mission:
For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. (3 John 7)
From this verse we can conclude two important things about Christian mission.
1. Christian mission involves “going out”, not waiting for people to come in
2. Christian mission involves going out “for the sake of the name”
This means that Christian mission must be concerned for the proclamation of the gospel about Jesus. Jesus who came in the flesh (2 John 1:7) and died as a propitiation for the sins of the world (1 John 4:10). Christian mission is thus concerned primarily with evangelism.
The main challenge that Christian mission is concerned with is not the social problems of the world, but the massive problem of sin and the wrath of God.
Jesus said as much in his Great Commission.
The implication is that we do not support those who do not go out for the sake of the name (1 John 10); but generously support those who do (3 John 6,8).
We also note that in the letters 2 John and 3 John “love” (i.e. love for others) and “the truth” (i.e. the truth about Christ coming in the flesh as a propitiatory sacrifice) are indispensable and inseparable. Therefore:
3. Christian mission cannot be about love alone
4. All Christian mission for the sake of the name must be characterized by love
PS We recommend the book, “What is the mission of the church?” by Kevin deYoung