Occasionally, the youth ministry newsletter and church blog will come not from Pastor Leo but from a guest blogger. This month is one of those months. What a privilege to have two CCC youth ministry graduates, Stephen and Jessica Langley, share their answer to a single question with you. That question is, “What leads two young adults in the 21st century to move to the other side of the world and to give their lives in service to a people whom they have not yet met?”
“Hevel, hevel, everything is hevel.” The author of Ecclesiastes opens his book by stating that everything is hevel, which means “vapor” or “smoke”. The idea is that everything people pursue in this world—money, knowledge, popularity, possessions, relationships, athleticism, jobs, food, health, etc.—is like smoke: you can see it, but as soon as you try to take hold of it, it slips through your fingers and vanishes. Nothing has lasting meaning or purpose. Everything is hevel.
There is one beautiful exception to this dark reality. God became a person, Jesus Christ. In Him, all the hevel of this world is given substance and purpose. He offers Himself – tangible, real, enduring – to everyone, and invites them to stop chasing after smoke.
What does it look like to accept this invitation? When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to abandon hevel (it’s going to fade anyway) and pursue Life. He said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16:25-26)
Thus Jesus calls us to the ultimate paradox: find life by losing it. Practically speaking, we lose our lives for Jesus’ sake by obeying His commands. One of the foremost of Jesus’ commands – His final word before He ascended – is to “go and make disciples of all nations.” This is typically what we refer to when we use the word “missions.”
Missions is disciple-making, Kingdom-building, neighbor-loving, Truth-teaching; it is investing in that which is eternal, pursuing that which matters, and devoting oneself to ultimate reality. In short, missions is the opposite of hevel.
It follows that missions should be a priority for every Jesus-follower, no matter what their vocation, education, personality, or giftedness. This process of making disciples of all nations is not exclusively the work of missionaries. We all do missions because Jesus commanded us to. We do missions because anything less than obedience is hevel. We do missions because it is real. All the world is chasing hevel, and it is our joyful responsibility to share with them what Jesus gave to us: real, abundant, everlasting life.
Jesus concluded His “hevel speech” in Matthew 16 saying, “The Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (16:27). If you spend your life chasing hevel, what will you have on that day? Nothing. You will lose your life because you grasped for smoke. If you spend your life following Jesus in the mission of the Kingdom, what will you have on that day? Everything. You will find your life because you spent it investing in eternity.
This is a sobering word on the one hand, but on the other hand it is a word of joy and freedom. We can be assured that what we’re living for is substantive and meaningful. The fog has been lifted, and we can pursue that which is real – Jesus – receiving a hundredfold in this time and inheriting eternal life (Matthew 19:29). That’s why we do missions.