One of the most difficult things for a church, business or even a family is to stay on mission. Mission drift has led to the failure of tons of businesses that have at times been great companies doing business all over the world. Too often a business in one area that they know well and are very successful in will suddenly turn around and purchase a business that has no relationship to what they are doing and what they really know a lot about. More times and not that business will become a drain on the business that had been succeeding well as long as they knew their mission and stayed on the mission.
How many times have you watched or even participated in a family where the marriage was going well and there was a great family as long as they understood what the family was all about and what was really important for the family, until there became a drift from the real mission. Suddenly, God and worship to God became less important than trips, vacations, sports or business and the family begins to drift first away from God and the church, but it isn’t long before you begin to see the drift inside the family itself. The mission of being devoted Christians who put God first in their life and were determined to bring up their family with the same devotion has slipped and now life turns around things, money, the kids fitting in and a long list of other things. One day someone in the family realizes we have drifted apart and things aren’t what they used to be. God stated the mission for the family well in Malachi 2 as he described the reason for his making two people one, “So that they may raise up a godly seed.” There is a world of difference between God’s mission and one of bringing our children up to be successful, powerful, popular or star players on some team. Can one do both? Yes, but only if the real mission is held clearly in front and all decisions rise from the godly mission.
In many ways it seems to me that the church of all three stands in the greatest danger of losing it’s mission to accomplish other things that are seen as being of great value. One reason Jesus was so successful in accomplishing everything God sent him to do on the earth was that he kept his sense of mission clearly in front of him at all times. In the early days of his ministry, in Capernaum, he healed lots of people with all kinds of sickness and diseases and cast out many demons. The next morning he arose a long while before day and went out to a solitary place to pray. The disciples came looking for him saying everyone was looking for him to come back to heal more people. Jesus response was “Let us go somewhere else – to near villages – so I can preach there also. THAT IS WHY I CAME.” In Luke 19 when Jesus came to Jericho and a tax collector, named Zaccheus lived there who was hated by most of the people who considered him a cheat and a traitor to the nation. He was short so he ran ahead of the people and climbed a tree to get to see Jesus. When Jesus got there he stopped and told him to come down from the tree that he was going to dine at his house today. The people couldn’t understand, but Zaccheus changed his whole life. He promised to give half his goods to the poor and if he had taken anything falsely to return it four times over. Jesus said salvation had come to this house, then stated his purpose or mission as “The Son of man has come to seek and save the lost.”
The church as the body of Christ shares that same mission in the world. We are to be witnesses from where we are now to the areas around us to the ends of the earth for Jesus. Our mission is to go to every ethnic group making disciples for Jesus, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that he commands and he promises to be with us all days when we are on that mission. But mission drift happens in church when we move from the goal of bearing witness for Jesus, of making disciples for him and seeking and saving the lost. We usually move to very good things as people wanted Jesus to do. They wanted him to focus on healing all their sickness and diseases. We determine it is our place to solve all the social problems of the world or to get involved in political issues of the day. We decide there is some issue in the Bible that we must put the focus on to make sure is done right. Often in the efforts to accomplish good things, Satan moves in to tell us how right we are in what we are doing and to stand firm on it no matter what it does to our mission or the unity of the church. One day we wake up to see a divided church, focused on what is wrong with each other and suspicious of everything that is done or said.
Let me plead with you that whatever we do that pulls us from the mission God gives us and leads to division rather than unity that leads people to believe in Jesus, that causes us to stop loving each other as Christ loved us so the world can see that we are disciples of Jesus, is off mission and headed in the wrong direction. I believe it is right to re-think and re-study every issue in the word of God. But my interpretation of the Scripture shouldn’t lead the church from what God meant us to be, ever!