A COMMAND . . . AND A PROMISE!
Local expressions of the Church around the world do not all look the same. That’s obvious. We could list many ways that churches vary—from architecture to music style to outreach strategy. But every true local church has one thing in common with every other true local church—they share the same mission—to go into all the world and make disciples.
This shared mission—what we call the Great Commission—was Jesus’ final charge to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts all record the Great Commission, and they each capture slightly different nuances of Jesus’ final words.
In Matthew, the Great Commission is issued as a command. As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. That includes making disciples right here in our own culture. It also includes places that are far and hard.
It means we must go to a large city in a creative access country in East Asia, even though the local language is one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Because over 10 million people live there—including 1 million college students—who need Jesus.
It means we must go to South Asian countries, where national governments actively discourage Christianity. Local believers model obedience to the Great Commission in spite of anti-conversion laws. Where we face legal opposition at every turn. Because all 1.6 billion South Asians need Jesus.
But let’s be honest . . . when we think of the Great Commission only as a command, it is ridiculously overwhelming. How will we ever accomplish it?
But let’s look at how the Great Commission is recorded in the book of Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).
The Great Commission is not only a command; it’s also a promise. Jesus promises that the Church will receive the power of the Holy Spirit. He promises that we will be his witnesses in the here, near, far, and hard places of the earth.
Like everything else in the Christian life, the Great Commission does not begin with us. It does not rely on human effort. It begins with God’s desire to reconcile the world to himself. He invites us to be part of the work he has been doing since the beginning of time.
JESUS PROMISES THAT THE CHURCH WILL RECEIVE THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Our part is simply to RSVP yes to God’s invitation. To follow his lead, to join him in his pursuit of people.
The church in the book of Acts said yes. And in one generation, the church grew from 120 people in a backwater country to a global movement with followers in the capital city of Rome.
Today, together, let us individually and collectively say yes to God’s promise. Together, we will be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.