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Friday, February 03, 2006

MY "Great Commission"

Any of us that have attended a church of essentially ANY denomination or non-denomination, have heard the term "the great commission". I have heard sermon after sermon from Matthew, telling me to "go and make disciples of all nations...". I always felt either overwhelmed or
'excused' because I had already 'talked to God' about my lack of passion for going to Africa to live and witness. The thing that has always bothered me about the message from Matthew is how it doesn't line up word for word with the message in Mark and how it totally conflicts with my own heart's desires.

Mark 16:15-20 teaches: "Jesus said to his followers, 'Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved, but anyone who does not believe will be punished. And those who believe will be able to do these things as proof: They will use my name to force out demons. They will speak in new languages. They will pick up snakes and drink poison without being hurt. They will touch the sick, and the sick will be healed.'

After the Lord Jesus said these things to his followers, he was carried up into heaven, and he sat at the right side of God. The followers went everywhere in the world and told the Good News to people, and the Lord helped them. The Lord proved that the Good News they told was true by giving them power to work miracles."

Some denominations have left this last part out. I've even heard sermons that explain away these "abilities" Jesus speaks specifically about. I have heard preachers say emphatically that was only during that time and only a gift to the disciples of Christ. I have also heard preachers say we can not heal and cast out demons because we do not have that level of faith. I say "HOGWASH".

I believe this teaching, like so much Scripture, has been taken out and reworded and rephrased and redefined to the extent that we lose the rest of the picture. My LIFE acts as my witness. I am so NOT a 'perfect' Christ-like example that I WANT to be. I am way, way, way, off the mark. I have lots of excuses, but the bottom line is the thing that drives me is the passion I have for God and the desire I have to please God and to show my love for Him, as He has shown His love for us...for me.

I know realistically I will never reach the level of love that God did through Jesus Christ, but somewhere in the farthest reaches of my heart, I still want to try to get there. It could be my temperament, it could be my upbringing, but I would rather accept that as a child of God, a creation of God, I have HIS Spirit in my heart that is longing to bring me closer to Him. This is the thing that is missing for those that don't know Jesus. The heart condition. This is my commission. I would die tomorrow believing my life had purpose, if I could explain to each person God puts before me about this passion.

I don't have to go to Africa to find these people. I work with them. WE work with them. We eat with them. We get our hair cut by them. They are our checkers and greeters at Wal-Mart. We hang out with them. We used to be just like them. As a matter of fact, the only difference between us and "them", is we are forgiven. Don't ever forget when and how God brought you to Him. He was wooing you even before you glanced His way. He is still wooing you. It's more than a "life insurance policy", it's love like you have never known!

If I may be so bold as to use the words of one of the best ad campaigns ever: Get God!


David said...

The verb in Matthews’s account of the Great Commission is MAKE. The intended action is make disciples. The go most preachers speak about is actually better translated, "As you are going..." implying as you go about your regular life, make disciples. The location, if different than the one God has already placed you, is up to God's calling on your life. If God calls you to Africa, then to Africa you should go. However, you have been placed where you are, at this moment, for some purpose. While there, make disciples.
I always point to the first century church to explain miracles. Read carefully the passages about the church. Someone went someplace and started to share Christ's gospel [notice the text] and by the way some miracles happened. Miracles were not the focus of the action. Miracles happened. They are normative of the experience of sharing the gospel. They normally happen. Why else would the writers be so nonchalant about them. I would yell it from the rooftops, "look at the mighty miracle God has done!" The writers just mention miracles as another small part of the overall movement and work of God. Miracles happen everyday, all around us. The resistance to miracles reminds me of the movie the Matrix, where Morpheus asks in a very Jewish Rabbi kind of way, “What is real?” Miracles are real. God is real. It is the resistance to God that is temporary and futile at best. This world is passing away. The Kingdom of God is eternal and thus the only real, substantial thing. Preach it Sister.

kpjara said...

Wow, thanks David for helping clarify this much misunderstood lesson. I honestly have never heard it put quite that way and it makes miracles even more precious and "God-sent" that it is a natural occurrence in His presence. I will spend some time this week reviewing the text and trying to hear from God about church and our "commission".