16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.".
πορευθέντες [having gone] οὖν [therefore] μαθητεύσατε [disciple] πάντα [all] τὰ [the] ἔθνη [nations]
The basis for global missions, evangelism, church planting, and discipleship is what has come to be known as the Great Commission. It is this last, great commandment of Jesus in the Gospel According to Matthew. This isn't the only place in the NT that such a commandment was issued by Jesus. A similar command was given in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The Great Commission, along with the directive of Acts 1:8, were not isolated commandments. These flowed out of the very earthly ministry of Jesus and flowed out of the overall missio dei (the mission of God) that we find in the pages of Scripture.
The heart of the Great Commission is the part that I lifted and highlighted. The main verb is one: disciple. In our English translations the μαθητεύσατε is usually rendered "make disciples." Make disciples of whom? ἔθνη. Ethne, "nations," or "people groups." When? πορευθέντες. "Having gone," "[as you are] going." In our English Bibles, we see this Greek word as a command, "go!" But the Greek is a participle. We can call it a circumstantial participle, giving the context for the main action of making disciples. In other words, "make disciples as you find yourselves going to different places." The disciples of Jesus knew of course that the good news was to go to all the nations, so it's not a terrible mistake when we see on t-shirts or mission signs Go!. But the purpose of going is making disciples of nations.
A tall order, a humanly impossible task. Indeed, were we not reminded from whom this command is coming. And with what resource. The authority of Jesus, which is supreme, and the power of the Holy Spirit, which is effectual. Seeing the command to make disciples with the full compliment of spiritual resources, the tall order becomes a do-able order. Never easy, but achievable. And thanks be to God for the many generations of disciples who obeyed the Great Commission! We are blessed recipients of their heroic work.
How about us, The Rock PC? We, too, are included in the Great Commission by virtue of being disciples of Jesus. The words that Jesus spoke in Matthew and the promise of the Holy Spirit who'll enable the disciples' witnessing apply directly to every follower of Jesus and every church of Christ. Whenever and wherever we go, make disciples. Whenever and wherever we go, be Spirit-empowered witnesses to the One who died and lives.
But our particular flavor -- our "special sauce" so to speak -- is to go to different places as "Hope Reformers." All disciples of Jesus bring their own "flavoring." There is no such thing as generic going nor generic discipleship. It's the notion of "original design" that Bob Hartley was talking about this past weekend. (The "original design" is another word for "your calling rooted in how God has made and gifted you.") As Hope Reformers with the miracle of appreciative eyes, we can speak into people and reveal the God who loves them. We can speak into groups and structures and institutions. We can speak into bodies for healing. We can speak into hearts for inner healing. We can speak wisdom. We can speak love. We can speak hope.
Yesterday as part of my "bridegroom prayer and fast," I saw two houses for our church. One is the Yellow House of healing, wholeness, and hope. This Yellow House is what Bob's been dreaming for the past few years. It's a picture of how God brings about wholeness for the Hope Reformers. It's really about what we've gone through with Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You. In order for us to be effective and healthy witnesses/disciples/Hope Reformers, we need the healing that comes from one another and in the different rooms of the Yellow House. The second house I saw was the Little Red Schoolhouse. We are called to train up the Hope Reformers. Our church is supposed to be a school for Hope Reformers. In the Little Red Schoolhouse are kids of all ages (much like old schoolhouses back in the days of Little House on the Prairie). Lessons, practicums, research, and curriculum are to be found in this house. Students and teachers, too, which goes without saying.
As a church, let's stay in tune with God who is leading us as we do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Let's pray: Jesus, we confess you have all the authority in heaven and on earth. And from you and the Father, the Holy Spirit has been poured out and is available for every believer to be endowed with power from on high. The authority and the power, we confess, clothe your people in order to fulfill the Great Commission. We thank you that we at The Rock PC are given this mighty commission as well. May you show us our individual "original design." May you open our eyes to one another and even strangers with the Miracle of Appreciative Eyes of John 11. Bless this day. In your name, amen.