MATTHEW 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: How do I view the Great Commission? Is it the responsibility of the church or the individual? Is it fulfilled by the five-fold ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, or by the congregation? Is the Great Commission the focal point of my life and the life of my church?
Almost every believer knows the Great Commission by heart. We may have memorized these verses in Sunday School or heard numerous sermons exhorting us to be a part of it. Yet, when we pull back the curtain from our lives and the life of the church, what do we see? Do we take these final words of Jesus seriously?
Jesus repeats these same words in the book of Acts as He instructed the disciples before He ascended into heaven. Their interest and questions were misdirected toward the future kingdom. Jesus corrected them and made it very clear – there was work to be done before He would return!
- “And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 NKJV
There is a constant in the Great Commission found in Matthew and Jesus’ instruction in Acts. In both the common denominator is a call to – GO! This newfound Christian faith was not something to celebrate within the four walls of the local Synagogue. Rather, it was something to be shared with others where we live and beyond! The power of the Holy Spirit was given so that we could – GO!
I am afraid that we have turned Christianity into a spectator sport. There are great worship teams and charismatic speakers. There are wonderful video presentations and multi-media effects. We have learned to look at a screen while we sit in our seats. Now, in many satellite campuses, entire congregations sit while a pastor in another location or city preaches to them via streaming media. Is this what God intended?
Recently, I had the opportunity to introduce our Discipleship Tracks program to a local church (visit http://www.localchurchynamics.org for more information). During this introduction, I asked the group that was present – “Is the church a luxury cruise ship or an aircraft carrier?” The majority of people sincerely answered – “A luxury cruise ship.”
Why did they answer this way? One sincerely shared it was because on a cruise ship there is something for everyone and a person is well taken care of and finds everything they need to enjoy their journey. While this is a part of making disciples, to care for the saints, it is not the end goal. It is what we have made the church to be but it is not what Jesus intended. The church is supposed to be an aircraft carrier.
An aircraft carrier is on a mission. Each person has a vital role to play in fulfilling that mission. While not everyone is a pilot taking off from its decks, everyone has a vital role to play in assisting this pilot in their success and fulfilling of their mission. And, everyone is moving. No one is sitting back at port watching a big screen of the mission. it is all-hands-on-deck!
Today, we have more passion for going out to a political gathering than we do for spreading the Gospel. We are bold in telling others how we think our nation should be governed but we shy away from proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. We take care of our homes and manicured yards while we neglect the harvest field right in front of us that is ripe and ready for harvest. We have turned the Great Commission into the great gathering.
We are not going to change the world by gathering for worship in great football stadiums or each Sunday in our comfortable air-conditioned churches. We must wake up and realize that it was not the missionary that was called to GO – it was each and every believer. It is not the job of the pastor. It is the job of each and every spirit-filled child of God. We have been given the armor of God and it is our shoes that define the mission!
- “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”. Ephesians 6:13-15 NKJV
It is time to put on my Good News shoes once again! It is time to be filled with the Spirit of God and power! It is time to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ outside of the inner chamber of my local church and into my community, my city, my state, my nation, and my world! it is time to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus has called me to.
Lord, stir me up and wake me up! Give me boldness to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all that I can. Open doors of opportunity and give me the boldness to share Jesus with others. Light a fire under me and under the pews of Your church – and send us out on mission once again!
In Jesus Name!