The Missional Thread

The Missional Thread

May 23, 2022 | Michael Rhodes

Mission. Missions. Outreach. Community impact. Overseas missions. Global missions. Local missions. Everyday missionaries.

These are some of the terms that describe the church’s external focus. While it goes by many names, there is a singular thread in the Bible that weaves together God’s mission for his people. The thread is subtle to some, and may be overlooked by many Christians, but once it’s pointed out, it’s hard not to see on nearly every page of scripture. 

We can miss it when we take a man-centered approach to reading the Bible: we tend to read the Bible like we view a yearbook. As a child or teenager, what was the first thing you looked for when you got your yearbook? YOU! You flipped through the pages quickly or went immediately to your name in the index to see where and how often you showed up in the book. Our Bible reading is eerily similar and arrogant. When we read, we immediately try to figure out how we fit into the story of the Bible. Sometimes we even think that the Bible was written about us. What a dangerous perspective to have when we consider Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God existed in the beginning before anything else was created. The entire story of the Bible is about God - definitely not about us, yet our consistent approach to Bible reading puts ourselves at the center. Once we realize that the Bible is a book about God, it becomes easy to see his missional thread throughout its pages.

It all begins in Genesis 1:28 after God created Adam and Eve in his own image. He instructed them to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it...” From the start, Adam and Eve’s purpose was to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth with God’s image. But things changed dramatically in Genesis 3. They sin and are separated from God. This distance from God and the consequences thereof sends the world spiraling into a mess. It is so bad that God decides to wipe out every person on earth, except Noah and his family. After they are saved from the worldwide flood, the tapestry of this God-glorifying mission is woven again when he tells them: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for this God-centered mission to become man-centered again. In Genesis 11, we find the earth speaking one language but also find a people wanting to make a name for themselves. They attempt to build a tower to heaven, but God’s mission is about his glory, not ours. So God confused their language and dispersed them across the earth. 

How would God now reach the scattered nations? Here we pick up the thread again. He calls a man named Abram to leave where he lives and to just go (no destination in mind), and God tells him, “...I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3). God creates a missionary nation to become great, SO THAT they would be a blessing to the whole world. That blessing, we later learn, is Abraham’s salvation through faith.

It doesn’t stop there though. This thread is seen when the Lord speaks to Abraham’s son Issac and says, “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 26:4). Then the Lord reiterates it to Isaac’s son Jacob in Genesis 28:14: “Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” God, again, is using people to glorify him in all the earth. This thread is woven throughout the Old Testament stories of the Israelites, Rahab, David, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, Solomon, Daniel, and many many more. 

This missional thread of God using people to put him on display continues in the New Testament too. It starts with Jesus. Luke 4:42-43 says, “And when it was day, [Jesus] departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” This “good news” was God’s blessing on humanity through faith, and Jesus used his time on earth proclaiming that message to the nations.

This was the mission for his disciples too. In Mark 16:15, Jesus commands them to “Go into all the world and preach the good news.” Matthew and Luke say similar things respectively: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mat. 28:19) and “ shall be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The apostle Paul understood the same mission: “...and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation” (Rom. 15:20). 

Jesus and his disciples understood the mission — leave where you are to put God on display where he’s not. From the beginning, humanity was tasked with spreading the image of God and the presence of God’s glory to the earth. Sin separates us from his presence, but God has been on an ongoing mission to see his people brought back to himself. This missional thread is applied to all believers, who are identified as ambassadors in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

So how does it all end? Is the tapestry of God’s glory tattered or beautiful in the end? Take a look at the picture of heaven John gives us in Revelation: “After I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb… Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever’” (Rev. 7:9-12). What a beautiful picture of the tapestry that God’s missional thread creates — people from every nation, tribe, people, and language glorifying God forever in his presence!

Veritas Church, let’s be a people who leave the comfort of where we are to put God on display in all the places that he’s not being glorified. May we lovingly and obediently weave this missional thread in all that we do. Start with your family but don’t stop until all people have heard and God is glorified to the ends of the earth. Why? Because God is the prize and he is absolutely worth it.

Michael Rhodes

Staff & Ministries Pastor