Life on Mission
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 28:18-20 (NIV) Every year, Eleanor, a third grade Sunday School teacher, had her students memorize the verses known as The Great Commission. This was a number of years ago when memorization was deemed more valuable than perhaps it is today. However, these words from Jesus sum up what we, as Christians, are to do each and every day. We are to step out in faith and spread the Good News. We are to make disciples who will in turn continue to spread the Good News as the first disciples did. In this way, The Great Commission is perpetual. Eleanor knew this and wanted her students to know and understand this most important direction given by Jesus Himself. We don’t have to go to foreign countries and become missionaries to spread the Good News. As we go about our lives, we are to tell about Jesus, and do good works as He did. Wherever we go, we are instructed to share the gift of salvation. How about you? Are you ready to take the first steps “to make disciples of all the nations?”
How many people do you know who are far from God? A couple? Ten or twenty? Are they individuals you know well or know well enough to realize they are not Christians? Are they in your workplace, your immediate or extended family, your neighborhood, your classes at school, your fitness center, your children’s sporting events, your barber shop, or your doctor’s office? Are they your good friends or someone you barely know? As Christians, what is our responsibility to these individuals? Pray for them? Sure, we need to pray for them. Introduce them to a minister so he can talk to them? Sure, that could work—if you can find an occasion to do that. In the lyrics of Matthew West’s song “Do Something,” there is an answer to a world full of trouble and a world full of people who need Jesus. He asks “God, why don’t you do something? He said, ‘I did, I created you.’” Instead of just praying for those who need Jesus or instead of introducing them to a minister, let’s do what Jesus did. He went where they were (Matthew 9:10-13). He intentionally sought them out. You and I can find them where we work, where we exercise, where our children play or where we walk the dog. As Matthew West goes on to say,
“If not us, then who,
If not me and you,
It’s not enough to do nothing,
It’s time for us to do something.”
“Don’t walk past it.” You may have seen these words on a safety sign in a factory or on a slide during a training class on customer service. The concept is simple. Don’t ignore things that need attention. Take action. Oil might be spilled on the floor in a factory. Choosing to walk past it could result in a co-worker slipping and being injured. A shopper is wandering around the aisles struggling to find an item. If a sales clerk doesn’t stop to help, the customer may go the store across the street. Seeing a need is usually easy. Taking action is often a challenge. The third part of our Life on Mission series includes a very familiar character—the Good Samaritan. Unlike two people who walked past it, he stopped to help a mugging victim. As Jesus finished telling the story, He asked a question. “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-37 (MSG) Most of us will never encounter a mugging victim. All of us encounter people who have been kicked to the curb. Sickness. Divorce. Job loss. Addiction. Depression. There are all kinds of things that leave people hurt and alone. They need a neighbor who will treat them kindly. “Don’t walk past it.”
Jesus is the way, the truth, the life and the only way to the Father. We need to help people understand that truth and share with those who do not know. For most of us, it seems a bit scary to think about sharing the truth of Jesus Christ. We learned a long ago to share. As early as kindergarten, we shared crayons, space in the sandbox and toys. Growing older, we learned to share time with others, give money or items of clothing. And what do we share in church? Meals. We take food to the church potluck or to someone’s home. None of those are scary. In fact, sharing in those instances can be fun. However, none of these examples of sharing are really very personal. They’re not about our feelings or about our actions. Sharing our personal thoughts and feelings does not have to be scary. Sharing the Gospel does not have to be hard to do either. When we tell stories of our lives and experiences and how Jesus worked to change us – that is sharing the truth. Don’t let those life stories be told as if it was all luck, by chance or something you did on your own. Always give credit to the Lord for what you have and what you have accomplished. In 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV), we are provided a guide for sharing with others. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” And that hope comes from knowing that Christ is our Lord.
Each spring more than 200 players are drafted onto NFL teams. These young men become part of a team, but in name only. They have yet to learn what will be required of them to become an active player on a team’s roster. People who choose to accept Jesus as their Savior are in those same shoes. They have been given the wonderful opportunity for great rewards. Their everlasting future is assured, but accepting Jesus as your Savior is only part of the bargain; there is much to learn about being a true disciple. The NFL draftee must learn to submit to the coaching staff. He has to study the playbook. He has to understand the time and effort it takes on the practice field, as well as the weight or film room to truly become an NFL player for a team. The new (and old) Christian must learn to become more like Jesus on a daily basis. That’s what discipleship is – learning to become more like Jesus. Just as every coach or veteran player has an obligation to help new players become valuable team members, each Christian has the responsibility to their self and others to promote spiritual growth. The church is a team who has to work together. Belonging to a group of believers in a close and transparent relationship ties you to people and information you need in order to grow and become more like Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) says: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Prayer is a powerful tool that we have to communicate with God and He desires to have this intimate relationship with us. In our “Life on Mission” we have an opportunity to connect, serve, share, grow and pray. We can pray for others to find that relationship with Jesus and we can pray for ourselves. We need to pray at all times, good and bad. We have a tendency to save prayer for those tough times we go through and not pray before those tough times happen. And many times we forget to pray when times are going great. Paul writes the following in Ephesians 3:20 (NIV): “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory.” God can do more for us than we ever dreamed possible. Whatever we ask, He can do. He can give peace in stressful circumstances. He can bring salvation to a lost soul. He can guide us in decisions. He can give us victory over temptations. God is able to do all. He is not restricted to one request. He desires for us to pray to Him continually and in all things.