David Muir asks whether pioneer mission is just a peddling of religion.
When it comes to the mission of God in our world, there is no point in just going through the motions. Either we do it from the heart, from deep inside our spirits, or we might as well stay home and watch TV – because the Enemy will find us out. OK, nonetheless the grace of God still sometimes works through even our most shallow of efforts, but then that same grace sometimes works without our efforts altogether.
What fires us up? In generations gone by, and still in some places today, it was literally the fire – and the brimstone – stored up for all who did not come to that point of acknowledging Christ as Saviour and Lord. Whose heart could not be moved by the awful prospect that those who today form part of our daily (even intimate) life might suffer in eternal and unimaginable pain? Mission was sheer compassion, not wanting anyone to suffer any such fate.
I still believe in hell. But I am probably not alone in being a whole lot less sure that anyone who has not been signed, sealed and delivered into the life of the church will end up there. It is then an easy slide into seeing the spiritual life as the icing on the cake of humanity. And suddenly even pioneer mission becomes a promotion of the glorious icing, a selling of a great enhancement to your life – or, as St Paul put it, a peddling of religion.
What I'm missing is the grief, that good grief that tears the heart over the state of those who do not find Christ. The best I can think to do is pray for those I know who do not yet have a faith, seeking a vision for who they could be if only they put their lives into the hands of their Creator and Redeemer – and hope that a gulf opens up in my heart and mind between that and who they are at present, that will truly grieve my soul. Or does anyone out there know how to enter into the 'good grief' another way? I fear that all my best efforts will be too shallow without it.