"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." John 20:21
The Great Commission is recorded five times in the gospels and Acts, each time with a different emphasis. Matthew notes the authority of our Lord (28:18-20), Mark stresses the final judgment (16:15-16), Luke the fulfillment of prophesy (24:45-47), John links our commissioning with the prior coming of the Lord (20:21), and Acts sets forth the program for world evangelization (1:8). I will focus on John’s emphasis for the remainder of this post.
The Father sent Jesus into the world and became human like us. He was born, He grew, He suffered, and He eventually died. He did not make His proclamation from a distance. He stepped out of eternity and engaged sinful man face to face. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God and second Person of the Trinity, left physical footprints upon this world! Prior to His ascension, Jesus turned this reality onto His followers-- commanding them to go out and engage the world face to face just like He did. As Christ-followers, have we fallen short in engaging the world around us to whom we are sent?
We have been sent out by Jesus Christ (John 17:18), but many within evangelical Christianity are retreating from the world rather than invading it; ironic when we consider that the term evangelical communicates a commitment to the proclamation of the gospel. We have retreated to where it is nice or safe or nonthreatening. As far as anyone can tell from our actions, we are saying to the world that it can go to hell. I am convicted by Dr. David Platt’s comment in his book Radical, “…while some professing Christians have rejected universalism intellectually, practically they may end up leading universalistic lives. They claim Christ is necessary for salvation, yet they live their Christianity in silence, as if people around them will indeed be okay in the end without Christ.” (p. 142)
Something must change and it must start with our hearts. We must set aside personal preferences, agendas, distractions and fears to become consumed by our Lord, the gospel, and His Word so that we will go into our communities and make Him known. We must grow serious about engaging the world around us, following Jesus’ example as He engaged our world (Philippians 2:5-8).
As we consider strategy, do we really need more special interest groups within our local churches, such as quilting bees, fishing and hunting gatherings, motorcycle clubs, or sports leagues? Why can’t we plug into the existing equivalents within our communities; building relationships and bringing a gospel presence to the world outside the walls of the church? Additionally, let’s find opportunities to become involved in local committees and boards. Let’s take part in book discussions held in local libraries and book stores. All of these are opportunities to go into the world as ambassadors for Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 5:18-20).
Dr. Howard Hendricks said that in the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering. How true! We have the Word of Truth and the only hope for a lost and perishing world. We must get more serious about following Jesus into the world. I know that changes are necessary in my life and ministry. How about yours?