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Mission Brings Health

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By: Elisha Lawrence

The statement "Mission Brings Health" may not sound provocative to you, but it does to me. I heard it recently from a group of church planters at a conference.  The reason it was so provocative to me is that in a genuine sense I experienced the opposite.

While I grew up in a Christian home and learned a lot of things, I think I became a Christian just before college. The start of my spiritual growth was undoubtedly through college while being involved with a campus ministry.

The thing that got me hooked on Christianity was honestly the mission. I was amazed that God drew people to Himself. Not having seen a lot of people outside the church world come to know Christ before college, I was blown away when I saw it firsthand.

In college, I was around people who routinely talked with their friends about Christ. They initiated friendships with people they didn’t know with the hope of sharing Christ with them. And I was both terrified of it and inspired. I wanted to see God work. I wanted Him to use me.

So I threw myself into college ministry with reckless abandon. And God taught me so much through what has now been 14 years of ministering to college students.

And while mission most certainly brought health to my life — a passion to learn about Christ, a desire to share the gospel, daily discipline of spending time with the Lord — it revealed a darker side of my heart too.

Part of me was inspired by God’s Word. Scripture like Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 9:36-38, Colossians 1:28-29 and 2 Timothy 2:2 were life verses. I genuinely did want God to work both in my life and in the life of others. I also wanted praise, honor, and recognition.

When I heard people share their testimonies and they mentioned a person who led them to Christ, I longed for someone to talk about me like that.

My fantasies were about having generations of people who traced back their spiritual lineage to my name. While mission did bring some health to me, it also revealed a deep-seated selfish ambition in my heart.

I used the mission of God to try to be like God. And as a result, I crashed physically. After 11 years, I was exhausted and felt a deep uneasiness that I couldn’t figure out. I didn’t want to pull out of mission altogether, but I felt like I couldn’t keep going.

I thank God that He is a gracious God who reveals sin in our hearts. And I’m thankful to God for men who spoke into my life as I processed through my spiritual and emotional fatigue. I had mentors in Campus Outreach and City Church who patiently worked with me and a sweet wife who endured my daily ups and downs.

Truth be told, I don’t think my problem was necessarily being on mission. I just neglected a vital reality of being on mission and that’s being filled with the Spirit of God. It’s not that I wasn’t reading Scripture and praying regularly. I was. It’s not that I wasn’t reading Scripture or involved in a community group. I was.

I was practicing all the spiritual disciplines that I still believe are vital to spiritual growth and I was growing. However, even in that growth, I do think I was missing a vital connection with the living God. And that is what scares me when I hear that mission brings health.

When I think about City Church and our mission statement, “Gospel Change for Broken People on Purpose,” I am deeply thankful to be part of this church.

God does 100% call us to live lives on mission with Him. God is a missionary God who fills people with His Spirit and uses us to take the gospel to people. He wants us to be counselors, evangelists, and friendly neighbors. He wants us to take a deep interest in other people and their spiritual well-being.

But as we do that, we also must recognize our brokenness. Because I’ve seen the darkness of my own heart, I’m different as I go out on mission. Because I realize that God is still on a mission to change my heart, I know I’m not the finished project.

It’s kind of funny, but mission did bring health to me ultimately. Seeing that my heart can take even a good thing like serving the Lord and turn it sinful reveals my desperate need for the Lord to be with me.

I can’t do mission without Him. I can’t do anything without Him. My adequacy is from God (2 Cor 3:5). Apart from Him, I can do nothing (Jn 15:5). And knowing this, I can approach the call to be on mission with humility.

When I share the gospel, it isn’t just something for those I talk with, but it’s for me too- And in this way mission truly does bring health!

Posted by Elisha Lawrence with
Tags: mission