Someone once said that the Church does not have a mission; the mission has a Church. What is that mission? Worship. People worshipping the God of heaven in all his glory and majesty. Worship is not just the mission but it is the very goal of the Church. John Piper said that “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever…” A pivotal part of our mission includes mighty, worshipful works of mercy to the nations which affords them the grace of health that will allow them to worship.
I write this today so that the Church will wake up to the mission. We’re blessed so we can bless those less fortunate than us. We’re saved for Jesus, for the body of Christ, and for the whole world. You’re not saved for religious games but eternal realities. Sadly, the Church many times would rather have a good time playing instead of an eternally, joyful time of missions. This can be watched on any given Sunday down here in the South. You’re likely going to go to Church tomorrow and be tempted to put on a religious veil. You’re likely going to step into a place where masks are the norm for sinners instead of openness and confession. You’re likely going to walk through the doors and sit in a comfortable pew where you can continue to ignore the command of God to missions because you’re not called. You’re likely going to hear a moralistic message about trying harder and a semi-convicting little rant about how the Church is in desperate need of a new building because we’re just growing too fast for our current building. Professional preachers will likely get in the pulpit with their suit and tie ready to give the Church three points, two applications, and a trite little call to “get saved” by repeating a prayer. So on and so forth. I will not be participating in the false worship. I cannot do that. I cannot join in within the religious panorama of hypocrisy here in the Bible belt because of stories, people, books, experiences, and God himself. When I step into a building called a church, I immediately think of the Church universal. Many times I ignore the thoughts and join the court jesters playing lip service to the kingdom. But, in my best moments where I dare to look even remotely like Jesus, I have a silent, holy desperation. I think of our brothers and sisters that are worshipping in the midst of great suffering. I recall reading a story about a little girl in a book.
Adanna’s name is a beautiful African word meaning “father’s daughter.” But Adanna won’t live until the next harvest unless something drastic happens. In her home country of Zimbabwe, there are no jobs, there is no money, and the only thing certain is the death that surrounds her.
The expected life span for people in her country is only thirty-three. She has watched her mother, her father, and her sister waste away from AIDS. Adanna is now in charge of her family. She is the head of the household.
She is ten years old.
Adanna’s parents left no way for her to care for herself and the rest of her family. She has exhausted every favor from her neighbors, every form of assistance from surviving relatives, and sold her last possession for food. But she and her brother and sister woke up starving again this morning.
There is only one way for them to survive. Adanna has heard about a group of local men who will trade food for sex. Dare she even consider such a thing? For all her young life she has dreamed of someday having a family of her own. She has protected her purity because she wants the man she marries to be the only lover she ever knows. Her mother taught her this.
Adanna’s dreams and her purity mean everything to her, but if she doesn’t eat soon, neither will matter. She will be dead.
Children grow up fast in Africa. She makes a decision. A terrible, necessary decision. She goes to these men. Perhaps they will have compassion for her. Perhaps they’ll give her food without asking anything in return. They look at her, they grab her, they fondle her, and they laugh. They refuse to give her food. “Why should we give you anything, you ugly little mongrel?” they shout.
They tell her to go into the back room of the store and wait. She steps into a room that smells of urine and mold. She is shaking. A sickly man is sleeping in the corner.
Suddenly, three men come in drinking and shouting. They approach her not as a human being but as a mere animal. She screams. She cries. Nobody is listening. Nobody cares.
And they steal her dreams.
She leaves with food. Enough to keeper her alive. But what kind of life? She has just contracted HIV. She will die of AIDS within three years.
Will you distance yourself from the idea that the Church is called to do something about this? Will you deny Jesus the worship He so deserves because you’re not called? Will you decline His offer to provide soul-satisfying salvation to the world because you’re just too comfortable in your own world? Will you refuse the very mission of the Church that God has blessed the world with until He returns? Will you fake your way through a religious game for forty or fifty years while the people of God starve, suffer, and cry out for justice? Will you tell Jesus that he might as well go to another worship service because we’re too busy and have our own financial problems here? Will you ignore the painful life of the ACTUAL little girl in the story above to play it safe with Jesus and his mission? I pray you won’t. Think about Adanna as you walk into Church tomorrow and worship God in all His splendor. I guarantee you that the road of worship is the same road that leads to the nations. Jesus is after the hearts and affections of every people group upon this piece of sod. Don’t deny Him His right beloved of God.