Asking yourself "Why?" before taking any big step is usually a good idea. Motivation often weighs as much as action, so uncovering and purifying the impetus of an endeavor is paramount. Why am I going to this college? Dating that person? Praying these prayers? Living in South Africa?
By God's grace, I deeply hope we can identify Christ as the driving force of every decision, major or minor. So when asking ourselves why we do missions, do we find the Lord at the center of our intentions? I answered yes… and no.
Raised in a beautifully missions-focused home and church, I am deeply convinced that Christ-followers have been charged with communicating the Gospel to a dying, hell-bound world. God doesn't need us, but has chosen to use us as Good News messengers. He doesn't ask us to make disciples of all nations, He tells us to. But is our mission solely to rescue guilty people from a deserved eternal damnation? Are humans our motivating force for mission work?
The truth is that they shouldn't be.
The eternal fate of other people is incredibly, monumentally important; I can't express how fully I believe that. However, when it comes to missions, salvation of people is outranked only by the glory of God. Glorifying God is our absolute answer to the Why of missions… and the Why of everything else, for that matter. (Eating or drinking or whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31)
God designed humankind to enjoy His perfection, to worship and glorify the One who is worthy of all praise. Sin created a massive chasm between a holy God and fallen man. As Romans 3:23 declares, ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul cries out that the sin and separation of even one person rob God of the glory He is due. The deepest problem is not really that man's eternity is at stake. The deepest problem is that God's glory is at stake. Our salvation, at its core, is not for us. It is for the eternal, deserved glory of Almighty God.
Scripture repeatedly proclaims that people of all tribes, tongues, and nations will one day stand before the throne of God, an idea that culminates in Revelation 7. The Lord will not be robbed of an ounce of His due glory. It is therefore incumbent upon us to deliver the Message that has the power to reconcile man with God and to return man to his rightful purpose of glorifying God, Creator and Lover of our wretched souls.
G.K. Chesterson wrote: "We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty." I agree wholeheartedly with Chesterson because I have received a salvation of which I am completely unworthy, and I feel an enormous responsibility to relay the Gospel to my fellow drowning shipmates. But I must continue to place the glorification of the Savior, rather than the fate of the saved, as the answer to my WHY. Because when God is glorified, the salvation of man is a beautiful and guaranteed consequence. And that is Good News.