“Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to” … “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
The juxtaposition of twenty-first century fiction with first century fact may seem strange, but the analogy works. The “Mission Impossible” tagline transitions seamlessly into the words of Mark 16:15 because of the difficulty and the scale – the seeming impossibility – of the mission Christ gave his disciples. The analogy follows through because in both cases we see a small dedicated group struggling to fulfill its mission – despite the machinations of evil forces bent on the group’s destruction and the thwarting of the mission it has been given.
We know the ending, of course. We know the movie mission will be fulfilled, and that the Christian mission will likewise be fulfilled eventually, but that doesn’t stop us from living through some tense moments in the “mission” type movies we may watch, or in the “mission” lives to which we are called. For many of us, in fact, there are days when the “impossible” part seems more real than the “mission.”
Sometimes it’s the difficulty associated with fulfilling the mission we are given, at other times it’s the sheer size and magnitude of the task. But it is encouraging to remember this is how it has always been. If we backtrack to some of the earlier “impossible” missions recorded in the Bible, we find that they almost always involved moments of tension and doubt regarding either the difficulty or the size of the task that God had given.
The Book of Judges alone is full of such stories. Put yourself in Rahab’s shoes as she thought about how difficult it was going to be to explain to the king and his security forces where the Israelite spies were who they knew had been staying in her house (Joshua 2), or think about how Gideon felt about the size of the task when he was told to cut his army by almost 99 percent before a huge battle (Judges 7). But God has the ability and the will to routinely turn the impossible into the accomplished.
Christ himself had to remind his disciples of this fact: “… With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). We know this intellectually and spiritually, but often it helps to look more closely at the mission briefing and remind ourselves that both the difficulty and the scope of the mission are possible: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV).
Notice first that the difficulty of the job is covered in the promise to provide the necessary resources: “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Next, notice that the Son of God could have just said “you will be my witnesses to the end of the earth,” but he broke the mission down into successive, bit at a time, stages – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the whole world.
The mission parameters we are given specifically remind us that we will be given the resources we need to do the job – and they also remind us that we need to do the job a bit at a time. The answer lies on the one hand with faith in the help we are promised, and on the other hand with our ability to successfully break down the mission and firmly grasp a workable part. But we have not really accepted the mission if we accept it as an impossible-seeming task.
Our mission, if we accept it, is to trust, and then to take on a small part of the job and make it happen. Those are the two responses needed to fulfill the mission we have been given. What small part of the mission will you make happen today?