In The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus tells a story that is a mixture of history and legend. Those who have seen the movie Braveheart will be familiar with the characters. Robert the Bruce was the Scottish noble whose character is most remembered for betraying William Wallace, but he later rose up to lead Scotland to freedom after Wallace’s execution.
He died in 1329 at the age of 54. Shortly before his death, Robert the Bruce requested that his heart be removed from his body and taken on a crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, was at his bedside and took on the responsibility. The heart of Robert the Bruce was embalmed and placed in a small container that Douglas carried around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought, he literally carried the heart of his king pressed up against his chest.
In the early spring of 1330, Douglas sailed from Scotland to Granada, Spain, and engaged in a campaign against the Moors. In an ill-fated battle, Douglas found himself surrounded, and in this situation death was both certain and imminent. In that moment Douglas reached for the heart strapped around his neck, flung the heart into the enemy’s midst, and cried out, “Fight for the heart of your king!
One historian quoted Douglas as shouting, “FORWARD, brave heart, as ever thou were wont to do, and Douglas will follow his king’s heart or die.” The motto of the Douglas clan to which the present duke belongs is even to this day simply, “FORWARD!” (2)
To belong to God is to belong to His heart! If you have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow Him, then there is a voice within your heart crying out: “FORWARD! FIGHT FOR THE HEART OF YOUR KING!”
Christians must not become consumed with their own ambition. They must seize Christ’s mission as their own. They must advance the revolution that Jesus started two thousand years ago. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus submits to the Father’s will, knowing that the cross and suffering lie ahead. He prays, “I want Your will, not Mine.” Every believer needs to come to terms with whose mission it is all about.
J. Oswald Sanders relates an incredible true story of a man who had seized the mission of Jesus as his own, and the movement that followed.
The great leader Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) was tempted by rank and riches; indeed he is most widely known by the title of honor noted here. But his attitude toward ambition was summed up in one simple statement: “I have one passion; it is He, He alone.” Zinzendorf turned from self-seeking to become the founder and leader of the Moravian church. His followers learned from their leader and circled the world with his passion. Before missionary work was popular or well-organized, the Moravians established overseas churches which had three times as many members as did their churches back home—a most unusual accomplishment. Indeed, one of every ninety-two Moravians left home to serve as a missionary. (3)
The Church has a mission because God has a mission. There are many churches and church consultants who suggest that a local church has to develop a mission statement. Suggesting there is a need to craft such a statement only confuses the issue for many Christians. Believers do not need to discover God’s mission for their church or for their life. They simply need to embrace God’s redemptive mission as the mission of their church and the mission of their life. The Church has a mission in this world because God has a mission in this world.
- Driscoll, The Radical Reformission, 40.
- McManus, The Barbarian Way, 2–4.
- Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, 16.