The False Gods of Missions

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If the driving and fundamental motive for missions is to be joy over the resurrection of Jesus, resulting in the consequent message that He is indeed Lord over all, does this that we may have no other motives whatever?

Well, we may have other motives, but there is a strict condition placed on it. If we don’t understand this condition, then the answer is no, we may not have any other motive other than joy. Here is the condition — any other motives must be carefully and clearly distinguished as subordinate motives.

Say a man enlists in the Navy in the Second World War, and he does so because he has a motive of wanting to “defeat Hitler.” He winds up assigned to a destroyer, and becomes a cook there. Say that one rough morning the heavy rolls make it hard to cook the eggs right. He says in exasperation that all he wants to do is have the seas calm down so he can get breakfast on. One of his friends finds this curious — don’t you want to defeat Hitler anymore? The question cannot be answered without the concept of subordinated motives, and with that concept it can be answered quite easily.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, and because we are really glad about it, we want to preach the message that He is Lord of all to every creature. And as a corollary of preaching the Lordship of Christ to everyone, it is also necessary to teach everyone how to live in obedience to Him. The obedience that He calls for encompasses everything — we are to baptize the nations (because He rose), and we are to teach them to obey everything He commanded.

But these other tasks that we would take up, from ending sex slavery to ameliorating grinding poverty, must be subordinated to the joy. Otherwise, we will be trying to do good things in the name of our false goods — with the result that we will make things worse than they were. False gods don’t save people.

Now for white people, these false gods of missions have been an unholy trinity — the Baal of Personal Guilt Over Having It So Good, the Molech of Personal Self-Discovery, and the Universal Spirit of Smug Superiority. People who are out on the mission field in the service of these gods should just get their plane tickets home.



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