Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Hope you all were able to weather the storm the past two days. That was a lot of rain! As I write this, the sky is blue and the warm sun is beaming through the window. Yet at the same time, I can hear the sump pump in the basement of my house churning out water. It quite possibly has gone off more in the last 36 hours than it has in the previous 3 years we have lived here. In last week’s blast I shared my goals for our congregation in this New Year. The first one was to grow towards and then average 100 people in worship each week. The second goal is to maintain a healthy financial budget with no signs of red. More on that in the coming weeks, but today I would like to reflect on the first goal. As I shared last week, this does not come from a desire to impress others or “beat” the numbers of other churches. It is simply, but very seriously, taking Jesus’ great commission to heart. In the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, we immediately see some surprising people worshiping the infant Jesus. The “magi from the East” were unexpected guests, but their mere presence declared a radical, awesome new reality for God’s Kingdom. (More on this in worship this coming Sunday 😉). This gospel then concludes with the words of Jesus, instructing and expecting His followers to be on the move and sharing the Good News with everyone. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
America, a nation on the go. We work, travel, exercise, play, and celebrate. Especially in this part of the country, we go. We get up early, work through lunch, and stay up late. We live by the clock and the digital watch and odometers. We lack sleep and sacrifice health. And we need “go power” to keep moving – breakfast cereals, power bars, energy drinks, vitamins, candy bars, and pep pills. There is no rest for the weary, we have to keep going, keep moving. Nevertheless, we frequently run out of gas and lie exhausted in front of the television.
Most of us would agree that some of this “going” makes little sense—like a hamster running pointlessly in his wheel but getting absolutely nowhere. However, there is one going that is of utmost importance. Not a going to get rich or to find thrills, but a going to make disciples of all nations, to share that Gospel Word power with family members, neighbors, co-workers, golfing partners, church friends, and people in other lands. Jesus speaks of it when He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” With these words, Jesus declares and establishes the fundamental mission statement and guiding principle of every church. Do good deeds? Yes. Serve those who lack? Of course. Have great programs? Certainly. Engage the community? Without question. But the underlying goal of everything the church is and does must take the Great Commission to heart. If who we are and what we do does not invite people into a relationship with Jesus and the life of His bride, the Church, then we have lost our way. We have lost our identity. We must be “on the move” and “going” for the right reason—disciple making. Good reason for going. The only worthwhile reason.
Thus, this first goal for our church. For any church. We need to commit ourselves to the business of disciple making. This means we share the love and peace we have in Jesus. We let our faith shine forth. We shine the light of Christ. We unashamedly give answer for the hope that lives within us to those that we interact with at work, at home, and at play.
And where do we get the power for such going? Jesus answers that question on the Great Commission mountain. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me,” the resurrected Jesus says. He supplies the Spirit-infused “go power” from His limitless supply. Crucified and risen from the dead, He offers forgiveness and endless refreshment. Through Word power – His Gospel – we receive all the “go power” we will ever need. He promises to be with us always, to the very end of the age. What comfort!
“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” (Hudson Taylor)
“Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.” (Oswald J. Smith)
“The Great Commission will not be fulfilled if we only give our spare time or spare money.” (David Kim)
* Blog was inspired by and incorporated thoughts from LHM devotional, 1-24-2004.
Pastor Steve Vera