"If you take missions out of the Bible, you won't have anything left but the covers" -- Nina Gunter
Those are strong words from Nina Gunter. If what she said -- "nothing left but the covers" -- is true, then world mission involvement is not just one option among many good things for believers to do. It is a primary task for the Church.
However, we can also ask: Was Gunter overstating things to simply pound home a point? I know people who think the Bible would be just a tad smaller if you took everything out of it that relates to world evangelism. In that vein, I envision an acquaintance or two of mine pointing to random Bible verses and saying to me, "Well, tell me what this verse has to do with missions. Or, how about this verse over here?"
Perhaps Gunter purposefully overstated things. However, I believe "nothing left but the covers" is more than hyperbole. Think of how world missions outreach colors "the whole sweep of Scripture," to use a phrase from Bible scholar N.T. Wright. We often say the entire Bible is one story. Indeed, it is. The Bible is the story of God seeking to reclaim His lost Creation from all over the earth. It is the story of the unfolding of John 3:16. It is about God seeking as well as sending to seek.
Gunter's statement "If you take missions out of the Bible, you won't have anything left but the covers" clearly springs from how the Bible recounts God's "incredible rescue operation," as Linda Seaman titled her book about the beginnings of Nazarene work in Martinique.
Nina Gunter was right. If we take missions out of the Bible, there would be more missing than a verse here or there. Scripture repeatedly speaks of God's desire that news of His justice, grace, and love be published in all the earth. If we take everything out of the Bible relevant to the cause of world evangelism, we will indeed be left holding not much more than its covers.
Nina Gunter's powerful statement, "If you take missions out of the Bible, you won't have anything left but the covers," serves as a poignant reminder that the idea of world missions colors the entire sweep of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, we read again and again of God's desire that all nations hear of His justice, grace, and love. This truth has far-reaching implications for the Church. Understanding God's heart for global evangelism should ignite a passionate commitment to participate in His incredible rescue operation. By engaging in practical ways, churches and individuals can play an active role in spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
-- Howard Culbertson,
More mini-essays in the "Slogans that awakened the Church" series