When we assume Church means the world coming to us- to stand in our air conditioned sanctuaries, to sit on our cushioned pews, to linger on our idle messages- then the Great Commission becomes out of commission.
Matthew 28:16-20 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What does Jesus teach us about the Great Commission?
That the disciples didn’t so much doubt in Jesus but Jesus’ trust in them.
Baptism includes welcoming all the people you wish weren’t part of the church.
The commission starts on a rural mountain, down one disciples and yet still spreads.
When we invoke the Trinity, naming the interaction in the divine family, we are calling Christians to live in relationship.
Matthew began with Emmanuel, “God with us,” and he ends his Gospel with the reminder that “I am with you always.”
A new person showed up at church with no history, no Christian context. Just showed up Sunday after Sunday, hearing the same message. Frustrated, he went and found an officer of the Church and asked, “When do they do it?” The elder answered, “Do what?” “The stuff… the multiplication of the loaves, feeding of the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, giving sight to the blind.” “Oh, that stuff,” the elder replied. “We don’t do that around here. We believe it, we talk it, we pray it, but we don’t do that.” We don’t go there. (Jim Wimbler)
It is long since past time for the Church to abandon the spiritual stupor that is standing still because the Bible is the recorded history of a people on the move. From slavery to freedom, from cross to empty tomb, from fear to faith. Salvation is refusing to be stationary. God loves us too much to leave us where we are.
The Great Commission is being a disciple of that stuff, all that stuff he taught. Jesus doesn’t need more worshippers but more followers. And 37 times throughout the Gospels, more than any other verb uttered, Jesus says to us:
Go out like lambs among wolves; Go to the lost sheep.
Go sell your possessions; Go through the eye of the needle.
Go throw yourself in the sea; Go to the other side.
Go into the streets; Go bear fruit; Go proclaim the kingdom of God.
Powered by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the last thing Jesus says to us on earth is, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”