In the Office: The End of Mission

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel.

“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34)

It’s always nice to make it to Friday. If I’m lucky (which this week I am), I can look back on a week in which meaningful visits were shared, key administrative duties were accomplished, and a message for Sunday was written — all of which leaves me grateful and relaxed and looking forward to worship and family time during the weekend.

However, I have to confess that there can be a bit of a “treadmill” quality to my pastoral routine. Almost as soon as Sunday’s sermon is delivered, it will be time to get started on the next one. Monday morning will bring new visits to make and new projects to tackle. And while I love my work and find it hard to imagine “doing life” in any other way, it’s easy to wonder sometimes: Am I really making a difference? Are we, together, accomplishing the mission for which God so graciously saved and empowered us? Or are we stuck in a rut of “holy hustle”?

In the OfficeAnd so, I’m grateful for passages like the one we find in today’s Old Testament lesson (Jeremiah 31:27-34). Here, we’re reminded that “the days are coming” when all of our teaching and discipleship ministries will finally bear their intended fruit, because God will put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts. Eventually, all of our evangelistic and missionary efforts to help people “Know the Lord” will cease to be necessary, because all will know Him, from the least to the greatest. And perhaps most important of all, we’re reminded that God is the One who will do this. “I will make a new covenant,” the Lord says; “will put my law in their minds…I will be their God…I will forgive.” The mission is in good hands. And though it proceeds slowly and imperceptibly at times, proceed it does. And it is this promise of what God will do (rather than what we are doing) in which our true hope lies.

I hope that you, too, are happy to make it to Friday. And even if there are “loose ends” left hanging, and projects left undone, and heartaches not yet healed, remember this: “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). May His grace sustain you as the mission continues…

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