TODAY’S READING: Matthew 20–21
God’s heart for His own glory and God’s heart of love for people are unified and inseparable passions. Because God created man to be most satisfied when we glorify Him, the best thing for us was this union of our satisfaction and His glorification. Matthew 20 reminds us that the God who desires all peoples to be satisfied in Him is the same God who desires all peoples to be active in bringing glory to His name from all peoples. In other words: All the gospel must be preached to all the world by all the nations. There is no country, no tribe, and no church exempt from the Great Commission. All God’s children must be missionary hearted; otherwise, they are illegitimate pretenders.
The parable of the laborers simply reminds us that God is ever wanting (and demanding) all His children be part of the family business. God is about the work of redeeming representatives of every people to Himself and He expects His whole family to share in that work. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera was the general superintendent of the Malawi Assemblies of God. In partnership with Dr. John York, he founded the 11th Hour Institute. Based on this passage in Matthew, Dr. Chakwera made the case that the African church must rise up in mission and deploy its best ministers to take the gospel where the gospel has not gone. He vociferously insisted that the Great Commission both included missionaries from the Global South and necessitated their active, equal involvement.
What Dr. Chakwera insisted on for the African church, the Holy Spirit insists on for the globe—all of God’s people must be involved in missions. And in this eleventh hour of human history we all recognize this is not sterile affirmative action—this is urgent interdependency. The body of Christ will not be able to complete the Great Commission unless all our hands, bodies, wills, resources, personnel, prayers, and sacrifice are laid on the altar. We must be very careful about arrogance on both sides. For those nations who have long labored, we must not resent the entrance of others, proudly remonstrating that we have borne the heat of the day (Matt. 20:12). Nor must we insist that the new harvesters only use our equipment or methods. For those nations new to the field, we must not ignore the hard-learned lessons of missions history, nor think that everything done before we arrived was foolish, nor must we try and emulate systems that our cultures or contexts cannot support.
Matthew inserted Jesus’ call to serving one another in the double context of His dying for the sins of every people (v. 28) and the raising up of eleventh hour missionaries. This is no accident, for sacrificial service of our brothers and sisters is a missionary necessity. True service is when God’s people lay down their lives for each other, even as they lay down their lives for the nations. If all who are in mission (old and new) will lay down their lives for one another, then truly the Son of David will ride in to save, lowly and riding on donkey (21:4–11). Together the global church is to be that lowly donkey that Jesus rides into town on to save.