Matthew 28.18-20 states: “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age’”
This past Sunday, August 1, 2016, we had a U.S. Missionary speak at our church. His name was Jay Covert. Jay is definitely doing his part when it comes to the command given by Jesus before ascending into Heaven. He shared about church planting. He shared the burden on his heart for those in our own country that do not know Jesus because their hearts are corrupted with the things of the enemy. Things like: drugs, alcohol, false religions, sheer evil, violence, and darkness. He spoke about his experience with his team going into the deepest and darkest places (brothels, gang hangouts, cultures that differ from ours) of the city they are based in and sharing the Good News of the Gospel, fellowshipping with those who don’t know the hope of Christ, and praying for any division to be torn down between their hearts and the Salvation of God.
In Matthew 28 where Jesus commands us to go into every nation and make disciples, this is one of the last things He says to His disciples before ascending into Heaven (Check out Acts 1 for His very last words before being caught up into Heaven). Doesn’t this show us how important this command is? I would like to make a few points about this passage, maybe refute some excuses as to why we haven’t done better a better job at listening to this one, simple command.
First, we need to recognize this as a true command. Matthew didn’t quote Jesus saying: “If you hear the audible voice of God, a prophetic word, or some other spiritual encounter, go to all the nations…” He also doesn’t quote Jesus saying: “Go if you feel comfortable” or “Go to a place where you feel comfortable living.” This is something we all struggle with.
Also, sometimes we may get these ideas that maybe if we go to all the cool places, like the Bahamas, the Grand Canyon, the west coast, etc. and post a bunch of pictures of the awesome things we’ve seen and done with a comment that says: “I can feel God’s presence in this place. He is surely moving,” then we’d be doing our part in the Great Commission. But friends, let me tell you, sometimes there are too many Instagram pictures clouding the voice of God for us to truly hear His command to “go into all the nations”.
I understand, as I struggle with it too. It’s difficult to think about living in the places that aren’t exactly the American Dream. But we have to consider that there are people in our own backyard that need to hear the Gospel. There are people who are so lost that they don’t know where else to turn. There are people who feel ashamed of their lives, who are living in depression, and are bound in the chains of the enemy. These people are everywhere. In every nation. And more times than not, we find them in the darkest places because that’s all they know. That’s where they’re comfortable. That’s what’s familiar to them. I don’t just mean location when I say this. I mean depression, addictions, and mindsets. These are the places that are scary to explore, but they are found everywhere.
Secondly, I would like to put emphasis on what else Jesus had to say about the nations before giving this command:
- Matthew 24.6-7: “For nation will rise against nation…”
- Matthew 24.9: “You will be hated by all nations for my Name’s sake.”
- Matthew 24.14: “…and this Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.”
- Matthew 24.29-31: “All the tribes of the earth will mourn and see the Son of Man.”
- Matthew 25.31-32: “…before Him all nations will be gathered.”
We are told that nations will rise against each other, that we will be hated for the name of Jesus. We are straight up warned that this is going to happen. But Jesus still says what He says in Matthew 28. We are also told that the Gospel will be proclaimed throughout all the world, that tribes will mourn and be gathered before His throne on the day of judgment.
My question is this: when the nations are sitting at the feet of Jesus on the day of judgment, how many nations will inherit the Kingdom if we stick to our everyday, white-picket fenced, with a big front porch dream, instead of following this command?
Do you think America will inherit the Kingdom?
Friends, this is something that may seem scary, but it is time for us to wake up and smell the coffee (or in some cases, put the coffee down!). What are you doing to fulfill the Great Commission? Are you praying? Fasting? Going? Giving? We each have our own part in fulfilling this command. Together, we need to all put down our American idea of Christianity, pick up the cross and live a life of raw Christianity for the sake of Jesus! Every nation, tribe and tongue, should have the right to receive His full inheritance and salvation. It’s the human right!
Even in our everyday lives we can work towards this goal. At your job, your extracurricular activities, your community, you can make a difference. You can share the Gospel. Doesn’t it bother you that there are people in our own backyards that don’t know Jesus or have ever heard His name? They deserve to know their Savior, but how will they ever know or hear if we don’t share Him with them?
Church, I encourage you to pray today and ask Jesus how He wants to use you in this commission. Maybe that will mean praying daily for a specific unreached area in our country or across the globe, maybe it means selling everything and giving to the poor, maybe it means giving more than just the average 10% tithe and supporting missionaries all over, or maybe it means mobilizing and sending laborers out…you being one of them. For each of us it will look different.
Listen to Jay’s message by clicking on this link: http://painesvilleag.com/stand-alone and listen to his own personal testimonies on the field and how God is using him. Let it inspire you to realize that you are a missionary wherever you live. Church, we cannot just sit and be silent anymore about our beautiful Savior, we have no choice but to stand up and share Him with the rest of the world. I’m not asking you to accept a “call” to missions work with me, I’m asking you to join me in being obedient in carrying out the command of Jesus in your own sphere of influence. Let’s do this together, as the church God commissioned us to be.
Matthew 9.35-39: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”