The Great Commission
I’m a part of 678 which is the middle school ministry at my church. Last week, I had the privilege of seeing my group of 7th grade girls for the first time in weeks. The leadership had set up an awesome event at the movie theatre so we could social distance with masks, but still all be together. In the midst of a stressful week with more questions than answers, seeing these kind, hopeful, resilient kids did wonders for my soul. The director of 678 gave us a couple of verses to memorize this week -Matthew 28:19-20. “Ah,” I thought. “The Great Commission.” I mentally patted myself on the back since I already had it memorized. The next morning when I pulled out my handy 678 book for daily Bible reading, the verses stared me in the face begging me to reflect on them.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Here’s the Problem:
In this political climate, when people (many of them “Christians”) broke into the Capitol to try to overthrow the election, it’s a tough time to think about The Great Commission. Events in the past few months, years even, haven’t been a good look for the church in the United States. It makes it really hard to talk about my faith knowing the images that may conjure in someone’s minds about my beliefs and my motives.
Can’t I just keep it to myself?
This is a weird time to be a Christian. Why choose now to publicize it?
But then, God whispers in my ear:
“I’ve commanded this.”
Me: But, God, this is a weird time.
“I’ve commanded this.”
Me: But people have done terrible things in your name.
“That’s not new. And don’t forget, I commanded this.”
He commanded it. And even if He didn’t, I’ve been given the hope found in Jesus. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with a world that is so starved for it? I love coffee and my kids and books. And if you know me, I’ve probably told you about one of those things at some point. Shouldn’t my devotion to Jesus be stronger than my devotion to coffee?
When I was in high school, a bunch of people from the band decided to steal little trinkets while they were on a trip to Disney World. They got caught and it was a nightmare for our school. I hated seeing people on the news (and even Jay Leno) talk about us like we were all thieves. Even a few years later, when I went to college and mentioned my alma mater, people said, “Isn’t that the school where everybody stole stuff?”
I was so mad at those kids who made all of us look bad. Truth be told, I feel that way about the church right now. And not just for defending horrifying behavior, but for fighting all the wrong battles.
Back in high school I was annoyed because people from my school were giving me a bad name. But that didn’t change the fact that we all went to the same school. I can be embarrassed by the Church, but we are all one body.
1 Corinthians 12:12 says: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”
How does the church move forward?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I often misrepresent Jesus, but what if we got back to the basics? What I mean is, we’re never going to all agree on politics. We can’t even decide what’s true anymore. We’ll be divided by issues, but if we choose to fight the right battles? If we simply do what we’ve been commanded (starting with the great commission) we can be more united. Imagine what the Church could do for the world if we behaved as one body instead of a bunch of severed body parts.
How do I participate in the great commission right now?
Make it personal. Our goal is not to start a debate, but to share. If someone comes up to me and tells me I’m wrong, I get defensive. But if they tell me their experience, I want to hear it. Remember that when sharing your faith.
Be genuine. We’ve all heard canned speeches. Whether it’s a telemarketer or a dude coming to the door to sell a security system, it’s a script. And that’s fine, but that’s not how you should share your faith. Don’t make a conversation with a friend feel like you’re trying to get them to sell Amway. Just talk to them. If you are a follower of Jesus, it shouldn’t be tough to talk about it. Grandparents don’t need much prompting to show pictures of their grandkids because they love them. We shouldn’t need a script to talk about Jesus.
Try not to point fingers. Like I said, the past few years haven’t been a good look for the American church. But blaming and name-calling will only cause further division. If our reputation is bad, that means we have more work to do. Let’s do the work to show people who Jesus is.
Think about Jesus. Read passages from when Jesus walked this earth and dealt with real people and real chaos. Watch His example of grace and love. Ask Him to help you love others the way he does. Pray daily that the Holy Spirit will lead you.
If you turn on any news channel or open social media, it’s obvious we live in a nation that is in dire need of the saving grace of Jesus. He could have used rocks or mountains to tell the world about him, but he chose us. Let’s get to work doing what he commanded. If we do, we will stand united and others will see that unity and come to know our God. What a day that will be!