One of my textbooks for my final Master’s class is “Let the Nations be Glad” by John Piper. The book is a delight to navigate, and because I’ve heard him preach and teach many times, I can “hear” the whole thing in Piper’s voice. Throughout the book, Piper references many anecdotes and stories about God’s faithfulness to those who view Him as supreme in their lives and how that gives rise to the urgency of Christian missions. Following is an excerpt from the book that seeks to show missions as the “second greatest activity in the world.” Piper accomplishes this by placing the Lord as the center of the church’s life and the Christian and how Christians, like William Carey, live based on this reality:
The most crucial issue in missions is the centrality of God in the life of the church. How can people who are not stunned by the greatness of God be sent with the ringing message, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods” (Ps. 96:4)? Missions is not the first and ultimate; God is. And these are not just words. This truth is the lifeblood of missionary inspiration and endurance. William Carey, the father of modern missions, who set sail for India from England in 1793, expressed the connection:
“When I [William Carey] left England, my hope of India’s conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, and the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on the sure Word, would rise above all obstructions and overcome every trial. God’s cause will triumph.”
Piper follows the words of Carey:
Carey and thousands like him have been moved and carried by the vision of a great and triumphant God. That vision must come first. Savoring it in worship precedes spreading it in missions. All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and his Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions is not the goal. It is the means. And for that reason it is the second greatest human activity in the world.