John 3:16 and Me
The famous Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, was once asked what he thought was the most profound truth of Christianity. Thoughtfully he responded, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
No other biblical truth is as compelling to me as that one. As everyone knows, I am not a missionary in the technical sense. I had a total of one missions course at Biola. I have no missiological acumen. But I do have a missionary heart and a zeal for evangelism. And the “harvest field” that our Lord spoke of most certainly includes Ethiopia, where my wife and I invest our vacation time twice a year.
For years I pursued the gospel of self-fulfillment (disguising my self-centeredness in pious terms, of course). I have since come to realize that love is the one indispensable mark of membership in God’s family – not status or education or achievement. I am learning to make choices on the basis of compassion for lost men and women who face a Christ-less eternity. Just as importantly, I am coming to realize that I don’t have to travel halfway around the world to be a missionary. The main thing is to see the world from God’s viewpoint. “God so loved the world” has become for me, as it was for Barth, the most exhilarating statement in the Bible.
I have tried to emphasize this simple truth wherever I have taught – Romania, India, Holland, Korea, and a dozen other countries. One of the great distractions of modern evangelicalism is our misguided belief that the political restructuring of society is our primary objective. As necessary and good as that might be, our Lord had a different goal in mind when He commanded us to tell others the Good News of His love and to establish groups of His followers in every place. If I may speak plainly, the lost condition of humanity has literally begun to break my heart. I care very much that many of my neighbors in Southside Virginia are going to hell, despite their church membership. I also have an insatiable desire to preach Christ in places where missionaries rarely go.
The bottom of the bottom line is this. The mission call is more a call to a vocation than a location. It is simply a wholehearted commitment to obey Christ’s Great Commission in a world-focused way. No formal training in “missions” is needed, by the way. Any committed member of the School of Jesus is qualified to have a part. I guess that includes me.
May 27, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.