The Great Commission…
Have you heard of it?
Do you know what it is?
Are you doing your part in fulfilling it?
If you have been a Jesus follower for a while, you have probably heard of The Great Commission. But in case you haven’t or maybe aren’t familiar with the phrase, I want to give you a little background. Matthew 28:16-20 is often referred to as The Great Commission. This isn’t just because your Bible might have this heading before that section of verses (those headings are not part of the original biblical text); it’s because this is a place in Scripture where Jesus commissions, or commands, His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus, both fully God and fully man, had just been crucified (Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-37), buried (Matthew 28:57-66; Mark 52:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42), and risen from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10). Jesus was soon to ascend, or return, to heaven (Acts 1:1-11). At this point, Jesus would no longer be walking and living upon this earth as a man. He would still, and always will be, fully God. Between His death/resurrection and ascension, Jesus charged His followers with continuing the work of making disciples and teaching the word of God to all nations.
This is The Great Commission:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).’ “
Jesus was specifically speaking to His eleven disciples, but this calling is for all of us. Jesus charged eleven men to go into all the world and make disciples. These eleven men obeyed; they went into “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8b, NIV).” They taught others what Jesus taught them. They shared His commandments. They lived out what Jesus had spoken into their lives. If these eleven men had been disobedient and failed to do their part in fulfilling The Great Commission, I would not be a Jesus follower today. These men where so changed and impacted by Jesus that they laid their lives down and shared Jesus in their communities, surrounding nations, and the world. They lived their lives pointing others to Jesus. And as they walked in obedience, they made disciples and taught them to obey everything Jesus had commanded. For those of us who are disciples, followers of Jesus, we are called to be obedient and fulfill the commands of Jesus, including The Great Commission.
The specifics of this calling, this command, may look a little different for each and every one of us. We are all called to go, but we are not all called to the same place. We are all gifted, but we do not all have the same gifts. Each of us is do our part. We are all called to serve well where God calls us. We are all called into the mission field. That mission field may be the marketplace, a hospital, a family, China, the Philippines, etc. If you’re like me, the specific mission field may change through different seasons of life.
I lived and worked in Swaziland (a nation in Southern Africa) as a missionary for about four and a half years. During this time, my job title was missionary. I loved living and serving in Swaziland. There were definitely some hard times and days, but it was good. I loved the opportunities I had, the people I met, and the journey God took me on. At one point, I thought I would live the rest of my life in Swaziland. I had ideas and plans. This is where God called me. But about a year before my last year living in Swaziland, God started working in my heart. I knew I needed to be willing to leave Swaziland if God lead me to move elsewhere. It took a while, but I finally got to the place where I was willing to follow God out of Swaziland just as I had followed Him there. I lived in Swaziland another year and knew that God was leading me to move back to the States. I didn’t know where I would end of living or where God would lead me from there, but God made it very clear to me that it was time to go. A little over a year and a half ago, I moved from Swaziland back to the States.
Since I have been back, I continue to have multiple people ask me when I am going back to the mission field. They all word it a little bit differently, but the question is pretty much the same. Sometimes I’m at a loss for an answer. Most of these people are “church people” – Jesus followers themselves. I get what they’re asking, I really do. Many of them have seen me come and go. They’ve prayed for me. They’ve followed me on my journey to and in Swaziland. But at the same time, it saddens me. Sometimes I think we have lost sight of The Great Commission, of what the mission field really is. I may no longer be living and serving in Swaziland. I may no longer have the title, or label, of missionary, but I am still on the mission field. God led me out of Swaziland and back to the States to my hometown in Oklahoma. He opened the door to my job at a local university. He is leading me down the path of running a business. He has placed people in my path to whom I am supposed to reach out. Every day, every opportunity is a chance for me to say yes to Jesus and walk in obedience to fulfilling my part of The Great Commission.
You may have never been a pastor, evangelist, or missionary, but if you are walking in obedience to Jesus and going where He wants you to go, then continue serving Jesus well. Continue to reach out in love and compassion to make disciples, teaching them to obey all that God has commanded, in your corner of the mission field. Go where God says go.
If God says go into your family, serve well. If He says go to Uzbekistan, go and serve well. If He calls you to be a pastor, don’t miss that calling. It’s not too late. Go and serve well. If He is leading you to start a business, do it. Quit doubting and take the first step. If He calls you to be a teacher, go into that classroom every day and love well. If He leads you to move to another country through your job or as a missionary, go and serve well. If we all go where God is calling us to go individually, we will fulfill the great commission together. We, the Church, will be going into all nations to advance the kingdom of God.