Success in the mission can be defined in various ways, and it is important to have a balanced perspective that considers both quantitative and qualitative aspects. Here are some considerations on what success in missionary work might entail:
Faithfulness to the Mission and Obedience to God’s Word: Success in the mission can involve communities and individuals remaining faithful to the message of the Gospel and following the teachings of Jesus. The focus is on obedience to God’s Word and spreading the message of love, forgiveness, and redemption.
Discipleship and Spiritual Growth: Success can also be measured in terms of spiritual growth and discipleship. When people deepen their faith, grow spiritually, and become faithful disciples of Jesus, the mission is successful.
Transformation of Hearts and Lifestyles: The transformation of hearts and lifestyles is a crucial element of missionary success. When people change their way of life according to the principles of the Gospel, turning towards a more loving, merciful, and just lifestyle, it is a fruit of missionary efforts.
Community and Unity: Success in the mission can also involve the formation of strong, loving communities and the promotion of unity among believers. A community characterized by love, care, and support reflects the influence of the Gospel in their interactions.
Quantitative Elements: It is not wrong to consider quantitative aspects, such as baptisms, growth rates, or the reach of missionary activities. However, these should not be the sole measures of success and should be viewed in connection with the qualitative aspects mentioned above.
The reminder of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:6 emphasizes collaboration with God in the missionary process. While humanity can sow and water, it is ultimately God who gives the growth. Success in the mission is not solely in our hands; it also requires trust in God’s work and timing.
Read the following texts. What do they tell us about the character of those who become followers of Jesus?
Corinthians 11:2: “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” Paul uses the metaphor of marriage to describe the intimate relationship between Christ and His followers. The characteristics of those who become followers of Jesus include deep, committed devotion and loyalty to Christ, comparable to the love of a bride for her groom.
Isaiah 30:21; John 10:27; 16:12–13: These verses emphasize the importance of the guidance of the Holy Spirit for those who follow Jesus. Followers of Jesus are characterized by their ability to hear God’s voice, follow His guidance, and walk in truth. The character encompasses a receptive heart to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Thessalonians 2:9–11; Hebrews 3:12–13; 1 John 1:8: These passages indicate that followers of Jesus need protection from temptations and errors. The character of those who become followers of Jesus should include a readiness for vigilance and holding fast to God’s truth to avoid deception or deviation from the faith.
1 John 1:9; Revelation 7:14; 19:8: Here, it is emphasized that followers of Jesus are cleansed by the blood of Christ and walk in truth. The character of those who become followers of Jesus is marked by repentance, confession, and a continual pursuit of sanctification. The cleansing through the blood of Christ and wearing “white garments” in Revelation symbolize the spiritual purity of Jesus’ followers.
In summary, the characteristics of those who become followers of Jesus include deep devotion to Christ, the ability to be led by the Holy Spirit, vigilance against temptations, a firm commitment to God’s truth, and repentance, confession, and sanctification. These elements shape the spiritual life and character of those who have chosen to follow Jesus.
What does it mean to be a “pure virgin” for Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2)? How can we as sinners be this before God and encourage others to also become pure virgins for Christ?
In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul metaphorically refers to the Corinthian church as a “pure virgin” he has betrothed to Christ. This metaphor illustrates the intimate, exclusive, and loving relationship between the church (symbolized by the virgin) and Christ (the bridegroom).
The significance of being a “pure virgin” for Christ can indicate various aspects:
Spiritual Purity and Devotion: It refers to being spiritually pure and wholeheartedly devoted to Christ, abstaining from worldly influences and sins to maintain a deep, unadulterated relationship with Christ.
Faithfulness and Exclusivity: The metaphor emphasizes faithfulness and exclusivity in the relationship with Christ. A pure virgin is not engaged with others but demonstrates absolute dedication to the heavenly bridegroom.
Readiness for Sanctification: It means being willing to undergo sanctification through Christ, fostering an ever-deeper communion with Him.
For sinners striving to be a “pure virgin” for Christ, it is a call to personal sanctification, repentance, and a pursuit of a life aligned with the values and principles of Christ. Here are some steps to achieve this before God and encourage others:
Repentance and Contrition: Key is honest self-reflection, repentance for sins, and a willingness to be led by God’s Spirit.
Devotion and Faithfulness: Deep dedication to Christ and a commitment to remain faithful are essential. This involves actively avoiding worldly influences and sins.
Communion with Christ: Active engagement in spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers fosters a deeper relationship with Christ.
Leading by Example: By striving for personal purity and devotion to Christ, one can encourage others to choose the path of sanctification. An authentic Christian life can inspire others to also commit themselves to Christ.
It is important to emphasize that spiritual purity is an ongoing process, supported by the grace of God. No one is perfect, but through Christ and His power, believers can strive to be a “pure virgin” for Christ and encourage others to a similar devotion.