Missions

Gaze and Go: God’s Glory Motivates Us To Mission

In Acts 1, Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  He reminded them of their mission (verse 8) and then the disciples saw something indescribable: Jesus ascending to heaven.

He had already been crucified and resurrected and lived on the earth another 40 days to speak about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). But the ascension of Jesus to heaven was more glorious than any bride’s first appearance before walking down an aisle.

The disciples just stand there gazing into heaven. I’m convinced that they were experiencing the glorious presence of God in a paralyzing way. “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9, ESV)

God’s presence has been symbolized by a cloud before—  

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” (Exodus 13:21–22, ESV)

And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.” (1 Kings 8:10–11, ESV)  

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, ESV)  

We probably would have been staring too.

Then in verse 11, two men in white clothes suddenly appear to the disciples and say “. . .why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” In other words, Jesus will return the same way you see Him going now. Don’t worry about Him coming back. Instead, be occupied with what He told you to do.

As they are marveling at Jesus and His glory, these two angels had to redirect their mission. They were gazing at the King, all while forgetting that they were to be building up the kingdom.

Some Christians spend all their time gazing into heaven while the world around them is going to hell.  

Don’t misunderstand—it’s a good thing to gaze into heaven.  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2, ESV)  It’s a good thing to be occupied with the glory of God and give Him praise for who He is.

But God’s glory should motivate us to God’s mission.

Abraham understood this.  Just by hearing the glory in God’s voice alone give him instruction, he left every comfort to follow God.

Moses understood this.  The glory found in the burning bush moved him past his insufficiencies.

Nehemiah understood this.  Seeing the wall of his city torn down and desiring to see the glory of God to be seen in his city again, He went through the pain of organizing the people and rebuilding the wall.

Isaiah understood this.  When he saw the glory of God fill the temple, He said “Here I Am” without knowing any details.

Jesus understood this. He humbled Himself to come to this earth to take the sin of the world on himself and reconcile sinners to God for God’s glory to continually be revealed on this earth.

The temptation for many Christians is to stand and gaze into heaven and forget our mission in this world.  

We can be great at gazing into heaven: attending worship services, reading our Bibles, singing praises, praying for people, reading Christian books. But God’s glory should motivate us to God’s mission.

Yes, gaze upon his beauty and glory, and go be his witness. How can you gaze and go this week?

Lottie Moon’s Broken Engagement and Commitment to the Gospel

Lottie Moon is a great namesake for the International Mission Board’s annual Christmas offering. She was committed to spreading the gospel and upholding the Bible. She died at the age of 72 after ministering 39 years in China, mainly in Tengchow and P’ingtu.

 

Let me tell you a quick story about Lottie Moon’s almost-husband and her commitment to the gospel to encourage you to follow her example.

 

Charlotte “Lottie” Digges Moon (1840-1912) attended Albemarle Female Institute, the female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she received a master’s degree, becoming one of the first women in the South to reach that achievement. One of the teachers there was a man named Crawford Howell Toy. In June 1861, Toy asked Moon to marry him, but she refused at that time.

Toy was a student in the first session of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1859 and went through the program very quickly. He was sent to Japan as a missionary for a short time in 1860, then joined the Confederate troops in the Civil War in 1861, eventually becoming a chaplain in General Lee’s army. He went to Berlin, Germany, to study from 1866-68 then returned to America to teach at Furman, an institution of Southern. In 1869, he was invited to be a professor of Old Testament at Southern. Toy’s theology, however, started shifting from conservative interpretations. Instead, he entertained ideas like evolution and the Bible having divine and human origins. Ultimately, it led to his dismissal from Southern with a tear-filled vote of 18-2 by a committee. They were saddened because they loved Toy and felt that he was a brilliant thinker who was getting off track.

Now, back to Lottie. She had been sending letters home from China as she served as a missionary. Toy saw them published in the Religious Herald and initiated communication between them. Eventually, she accepted his proposal for marriage and was planning to return to America to marry Toy, who was becoming the professor of Hebrew at Harvard University. Moon did not know of the controversy surrounding Toy, however. As she eventually heard about it, she studied books representing Toy’s position and became greatly opposed to his theology, broke the engagement, and never married. Toy eventually associated with the Unitarian Church before his death.

Lottie Moon should be commended not only for her mission work but her faithfulness to Scripture even when it came with great sacrifice. Is the gospel a priority in your life to the point where you obey Christ no matter the cost? Let’s follow Lottie’s example.

 

Want more like what you’re reading?  Check out my weekly podcast, Five To Focus.

 

Sources consulted:

~International Mission Board. “Who Was Lottie Moon?”  

~Dan Gentry Kent, The Saint’s Suitor: Crawford H. Toy. Baptist History and Heritage, 2003.

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