Delighting in Christ is the heart of missions. Christians do not need better packaged evangelism programs, more “missional” methods of identifying with the culture, or a better apologetic methodology. Though knowing how to clearly articulate the good news about Christ to people in an understandable and meaningful way is important in the evangelistic efforts of the believer, they are all for naught if the Christian is not delighting in Christ, for it is a delight in Christ that genuinely motivates one to want to talk about Christ!
In Colossians 4:2-6, delighting in Christ is intimately tied to evangelistic praying (4:2-3) and evangelistic living (4:2-5). According to Colossians 4:2, the believer is to be alert in prayer with “thanksgiving.” This thanksgiving is the settled internal attitude and external fruit of the lips that flows out of a right understanding of the resurrection power that has transformed the heart (Col. 3:1-4) and effected an inseparable spiritual union (Col. 2:6, 10, 11-13) such that a man is so gripped by the reality of the all-sufficiency of Christ and one’s own personal salvation wrought by Him that he cannot help but pray with an alert, worshipful thankfulness for others to know Him in the same way. This desire is expressed specifically by praying for missionaries around the world to have opportunities to clearly articulate these glories of Christ (Col. 4:3).
This same attitude of thanksgiving, colors not only the way the believer prays for missionaries, but also the way the believer lives in his own community (Col. 4:5-6). According to Colossians 4:5, the believer is to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders.” The meditative impact of the spiritual reality of one’s union with Christ and His coordinate resurrection power at work in the believer, for which one is so thankful in heart, ought to move him to continuously lead a life in his own community that distinctly marks him out as a person who understands and applies the Word of Christ in every area of life and seeks to bring Christ to bear in clearly articulated words about Him as often as possible out of that thankful heart (Col.4:6).
Herein is the begging question of Colossians 4:2-6: how can the believer not bring such an all-sufficient, all-powerful, life-transforming Savior, for whom he is so meditatively thankful, to bear on every discussion and life-act possible, and so desire and pray the same for missionaries around the world? In Jn. 21:15-18, (“Do you love me…do you love me…do you love me?”), Christ taught Peter that no one is His commissioned servant to care for the sheep, and reach new ones, without first loving Him, i.e., delighting in Him, above all else! This is the first and most basic requirement for successful Christian service…affections for Christ Himself! A lack of proper affection for Christ was the source, the linchpin, of Peter’s failure. It is also that of many believers who make up churches. The believer does not primarily need the mental overhaul of evangelism and apologetics, or a “missional” mindset (whatever that may mean), the believer primarily needs the heart of missions, a delight in Christ with proper affection that naturally expresses itself in a life comprised of biblically-informed wise, life-acts and the proclamation of His great Name to all kinds of peoples stemming from the depths of his own heart within his own community and moving outward, locally, regionally, internationally, wherever he may go!
May the LORD give grace as we pass along to the men of The Cornerstone Seminary the heart of missions!
Academic Dean of The Cornerstone Seminary