“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
For the past two years, we have been looking at “Old Strategies” to deal with “New Realities.” I have written about “What” we do and “How” we do it, but I have not talked about “Why?”
Some Possible Motives
Why should we be “reaching Chinese worldwide” in every possible way?
In the nineteenth century, J. Hudson Taylor could not stand the thought that “a million a month were dying in [China], dying without God.”
To stir up the hearts of Christians in Great Britain, he wrote, “His unconditional command, ‘Go . . . I am with you always,’ is sounding on and on, while with it mingles the low wail of thousands, passing hour by hour into Christless graves.”
Lest anyone should think that the Great Commission of Christ and the spiritual plight of China’s millions did not concern them, he cited Proverbs 24:11-12, with its searing declaration that each Christian must do all we can to “deliver those who are drawn toward death,” especially eternal death.
Taylor’s heart burned with an awful sense of the terrors of hell for those who do not trust in Christ, the clear command of Jesus to take the gospel to all the nations, and the responsibility of each believer to work for the eternal salvation of the Chinese people.
Others have pointed to the temporal benefits that come to those who repent and believe in Jesus as their Savior:
We gain peace of mind, the steadfast love and care of our heavenly Father, daily forgiveness of sins, power over temptation and sin, fellowship with other believers, and hope for the future. As my book, The Lord’s Healing Words, tries to show, living by God’s Word also generally (though not always) brings better health.
More recently, historians have shown that when a significant proportion of a nation’s population seek to live in the light of God’s revelation in Christ, the entire society benefits. Health care, education, the improved status of women and children, honest business practices, and better government almost always follow.
Christianity in America: Triumph and Tragedy illustrates this fact from American history, while the three volumes of Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China, edited by GCC Associates Dr. Carol Lee Hamrin and Stacey Bieler, provide examples of how the Christian faith has brought great benefits to China.
Once, when I had given a lecture in China on the missionary movement, I was asked, “What motivated the missionaries?” The first answer that came to me was, “We want our Chinese friends to be happy, to enjoy all the blessings that God has given us.”
Later, I added, “And all the missionaries I know think that you Chinese are just too lovable!”
A More Powerful Motivation
These are all good reasons for giving ourselves to the great cause of the worldwide proclamation of the gospel by all means.
Recently, however, I have seen that a deeper, more powerful urgency must drive us: In all we do, we must seek the glory of God.
In Let the Nations be Glad, John Piper eloquently demonstrated that God rightly seeks his own glory, for he is the only Being in the universe deserving ultimate praise and worship. Not only so, but we find our greatest happiness in knowing, loving, praising, and reflecting God’s glory to others.
What if people don’t believe our message, or even spurn it and despise us? What if we fail to persuade believers to live according to the Scriptures? How do we deal with our own faults, shortcomings, and mixed motives?
If we have been pursuing our own name and fame, or the satisfaction of having blessed others, or – God forbid! – power and prestige, then we will almost always be disappointed.
If, on the other hand, we constantly check our motives by the one standard that really counts, that is, the greater glory of God, we will not only be more effective but also much happier.
The Main Thing
As we all know, in God’s eyes, motivation is primary. He wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22:37).
The Psalmist prayed, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1). Paul tells us that we are to “be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14), especially ‘the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6).
Please pray for us, that our hearts and minds would be fixed on God’s glory as seen in the face of Jesus Christ, and that we and our Chinese friends would thereby be “transformed into the same image, from glory to glory,” by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6).