I was shocked by the words, but they rang true: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” This quote from John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad, made perfect sense.
When a missions team goes to an unreached people group they “simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.” As the Psalmists write: “The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.” (Psalm 97:1, NIV). “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Psalm 67:3-4, NIV).
Piper goes on to write: “But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, ‘Let the nations be glad!’ who cannot say from the heart, ‘I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High’ (Psalm 104:34; 9:2, KJV). Missions begins and ends in worship.”
Maybe it is not so odd that my experiences in missions have connected with our passion for worship here at Stones River. Piper continues, “When the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the darkest peoples on earth. And I long for that day to come!” I must add a hearty, “Amen—let it be so, Lord!”
Jesus revealed the necessity of worship when he was called to stop the praise of his disciples: “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). The created world points to its Creator. But men and women—in particular the redeemed—must declare God’s worth; we must worship him in gladness. We come before him with joyful song. We work that others might experience this joy with us!