Many times when I mention that I am a missionary I get this kind of response. “My neighbor does that, he goes every year to Haiti and helps build houses for people to live in.” The idea of a missionary has been transformed into some Secret Santa hybrid who goes around doing charity. Most people think that missionaries dig wells, start soup kitchens, or hand out clothes to the social downcast of their host country. Note: I am not against someone digging wells etc…
Missions must have the Gospel as its center. Jesus did not say in Mark 16:15 “Go ye into all the world and make sure everyone has enough to eat.” No, Jesus’s mission here on earth was to reconcile humanity to God. With that being said Jesus did help people with their physical needs. He did heal the sick, he fed the multitudes, he even raised people from the dead, but these acts of mercy were not an end in themselves. When we participate in “mercy ministries” the focus must still be the Gospel. Acts of mercy and compassion must lead back to the cross and the Gospel or we have completely missed our mark. We are Christ’s disciples and as followers of Christ, His mission is our mission. His drive must be our drive; His center must be our center. 2 Corinthians 5:18 says that God has given unto us a “ministry of reconciliation.” The next verse says that God has committed unto us the “word of reconciliation.” And what is this “word?” It is the first part of verse 19: “that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” In other words, the Gospel is the “word of reconciliation.”
In the name of love and compassion we divide much of our time and resources to meet people’s temporary needs. Yet there is something far greater than hunger, a lack of shelter, a lack of clean water, or someone being naked. Our focus must be on their greatest need and that is being reconciled to God, so we preach the Gospel.
We preach the Gospel because man is an eternal creature. We preach the Gospel because hell is real. We preach the Gospel because God’s wrath is fierce. We preach the Gospel because God in love has commanded us to do so. We preach the Gospel because it is the only way. We preach the Gospel because it works. 1 Corinthians 9:16 “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”