Spiritual Renewal: Renewal Spills Over Into Mission

(This is a continuation of our study on spiritual renewal. You can find all of the posts here.)
“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”
-John Piper
Scripture Reading: Zephaniah 3:9-20
Lesson: Why does God renew us? For that matter, why does He save us to begin with? On one level, the answer is “His glory.” On another, it is “His love.” Both of these are true, and properly belong first – this is why we have addressed them both already.
However, another answer presents itself in our reading from Zephaniah 3. Throughout the Old Testament revival passages, a consistent theme is that the end point of revival and restoration is the nations. The goal is that “all [peoples] may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.” God’s love for Israel does not terminate with Israel; it is aimed at saving the whole world.
A focus on the mission of the church will not in itself bring revival. That is to put the cart before the horse. Indeed, there are some churches who expend an enormous amount of energy trying to get people to evangelize who have never truly believed the gospel for themselves or to do works of mercy in their communities without understanding the mercy Christ offers them. Renewal doesn’t begin by browbeating people into its results.
That said, any true work of God’s renewal will overflow the boundaries of the church. We are blessed in order to be a blessing. God restores our fortunes and gathers us in so that He might be praised among all people of the earth. Renewal is not begun with mission, but a failure to turn outward can at times cause it to wither in its infancy and die. What’s more, being about the mission of God is one of the primary forces that allows renewal to be sustained. It is the spiritual exercise that strengthens the new life God gives.
This missionary purpose should be both a warning and an encouragement to us as we pray to be renewed. It reminds us that one of the primary distinctions between emotionalism and true revival is its impact on the surrounding world. Success is measured not by how many people come forward to an altar but in how many go out into their communities to love and serve and share the good news.
Prayer: Glorious Father, may Your name be glorified in all the earth! You taught us to pray that Your name would be holy, Your kingdom would come and Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is our prayer. May You move in us, and then may You move through us to move the world. Make us ambassadors of the good news, the hands and feet of Jesus, agents of salvation in this dying world. Do this all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.