Christ's Love as Motivation for Missions :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Christ's Love as Motivation for Missions

Tony Cornelius
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What motivates a believer to serve the Lord? We often hear of ministry needs both foreign and domestic. The call goes out for laborers to answer the call to serve Christ in vocational ministry. So, what best motivates a believer to answer the call for ministry, driving him or her forward in their ministry service? Why does it seem that fewer and fewer young people are pursuing full-time ministry?

In seeking to increase the number of those pursuing the ministry, we have emphasized the secondary motivations for ministry more than the primary motivation.

Good Secondary Motivations

Some secondary motivations are good. Obligation to win the lost, compassion for the unreached, and empathy for those who do not know Christ are all great motivations. There are also bad motivations: guilt for past failures to take advantage of gospel opportunities, fear of being judged a ministry failure, or pride in building a successful ministry.

But better messaging, more striking presentations, and more inspiring missionary stories will not improve the falling numbers of those pursuing the ministry. While these efforts target secondary motivations, they fall far short of the primary motivation for ministry. In our efforts to compel others to pursue ministry, we have failed to exalt Christ as our only source of both salvation and service.

Love for Christ is yet another good but secondary motivation for ministry. Even religious but not truly regenerated people can be motivated to ministry by love for Christ. It is a strong motivation to be sure, but there is no real power in it because it comes from me. My love for Jesus is weak! My love for Jesus is wavering! My love for Jesus often fails.

Primary Motivation: The Love of Christ

We need something stronger—a motivation outside of ourselves. What is the source of real power and sustaining motivation for ministry? What compels believers to serve Jesus Christ throughout their Christian lives regardless of vocation?

There is one source of power available to all believers that, if tapped into, will drive them to serve Christ with a motivation and passion beyond their own strength or ability. That power is the Gospel! That power is Jesus Himself!

Paul states in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel—the Good News that God has taken on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and that Jesus lived the perfect life demanded by God for us, died on the cross, and satisfied the wrath of God we deserve—is the power of God! In Ephesians 1:19–21, Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers would know by experience God’s power in their lives, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.

2 Corinthians 5:14–15 further explains Christ’s love for us and its motivating effect: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”1

Driven by Christ’s Love

The love of Christ, communicated to me through His sacrifice on the cross, controls me and compels me forward because in Him I have also died. Bathed in Jesus’ love—in Jesus, Who is the Gospel—I am driven forward to service. Jesus’ love for me in my worthlessness, rather than my love for Jesus because of His salvation, compels me.

In Him, in the Gospel, the very resurrection power of God comes upon me, driving me forward to live no longer for myself but for Him who died and was raised. As this gospel power, the very power of God, takes hold of me, Jesus’ life, Jesus’ ministry, and Jesus’ love become more and more mine. And my life, my ministry, and my love become more and more His. Service to God is great! Love-motivated ministry is good!

“But one thing is necessary!”

Luke 10:38–42 describes the “one thing:” “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’

How can I best sustain and increase my motivation to serve Christ? How can I best encourage and motivate others to serve Him? I can sit at Jesus’ feet and be overwhelmed by His love for me. I can encourage other believers around me to sit with me at Jesus’ feet and experience together the transformative power of Jesus’ presence and His love. And then because of His love and with His power, we can boldly serve Him with our lives.

The Ongoing Need to be Overwhelmed

I still do not sit with Jesus as much as I need to. But I do it more now than I used to. I am not talking about personal devotions, though that is a good time to bask in His presence. I mean time to just sit with Him in meditation, reflection, and personal communication. Stopping on a word, a phrase, or a verse to be overwhelmed by His love for me.

Sitting with other believers as we share Jesus’ love for us has almost driven me to tears in gratefulness and praise. It might look like sitting with my family after watching a Christian video about the life of Christ and talking about Jesus’ love for us or listening to believers at a Sunday morning service testifying of His love for them and rejoicing in His transforming power and love in their lives. In the midst of busy ministry for the Lord Jesus, let us not neglect the one thing we need—Jesus, Himself!


1 All biblical references in this article are quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.