Are you a finisher?
A couple of years ago, I was plagued by a question that I had never heard my pastor ask, much less answer: Why did Jesus leave?
It seemed to me that having died for our sins and conquered death, he could have fully ushered in his kingdom then and there. Didn’t Jesus himself say, “It is finished”? Why not go directly to Matthew 25’s judgment scene — do not pass go, do not collect $200? Gather the nations, separate the sheep from the goats, get the judgment behind you, and set up your eternal kingdom forever and ever. Amen. Now, that makes sense. But no. Instead, Jesus chose to leave.
I found the key to the answer in Jesus’ words: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Before Jesus left, he gave a critical mission to his followers and said that he would return when it was finished. And this “gospel of the kingdom” requires that we both pro- claim the message of forgiveness and demonstrate God’s love through our actions—caring for the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, freeing the oppressed, and standing up for justice. This is a mission for every follower of Christ—with no exceptions.
This idea eventually developed into my new book, Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning (read an excerpt). The central thought is this: God has invited you and me to join him in changing the world. God has a vision for the world that Jesus called the kingdom of God. And you and I will only find fulfillment in our lives when we discover the unique role God has for us in building his kingdom. But this mission Jesus gave to his church is unfinished. And if you haven’t found your place in this kingdom work, you may be missing out on the very thing God created you to do.
I believe this is why World Vision exists — to help finish this great mission. It is our job to do what Jesus calls his church to do—to lift up the poor and proclaim the good news. We are to transform the world for Christ.
But this is a huge task, and it requires a massive effort. Nearly 1 billion people are hungry, causing 2 billion children to grow up underweight or stunted. Lack of clean water and sanitation contributes to 19,000 children under 5 dying every day. Meanwhile, 30 percent of the world’s people have not heard about Jesus Christ, much less seen the gospel in action.
So at World Vision, we have asked ourselves, are we really doing enough? Are we helping every child we can? World Vision has experience, infrastructure, and on-the-ground relationships in our sponsorship communities that enable us to care for millions of people every year. But we realized that we could do even more in those communities — if we had the resources. So we have launched a rescue mission.
We have embarked on a $500 million campaign through 2015 that will allow us to build on our work in sponsorship communities and rescue an additional 10 million people from suffering. Already, hundreds of donors have joined World Vision’s Campaign For Every Child, sacrificially giving hundreds of millions of dollars. We are pouring those resources into our sponsorship communities, enabling them to go deeper and expand their reach to more of God’s children through accomoplishments like clean water, health interventions, economic development programs, child protection, and Christian witness work.
However, right now, the job remains unfinished. Lives are at stake. The need is too great, and Jesus’ mission is too important. Will you join us by being one of God’s “finishers”?