Devotional Word for Friday, July 24, 2020
As I think about both the Church and Christians individually, I am reminded of the great commission. Remember that directly before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commissioned His followers for the task of gospel proclamation. Listen to how Matthew records it; he writes, ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH. GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I COMMANDED YOU; AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.
When I was in college, I was encouraged to memorize these verses. Well, I was encouraged to memorize 19 and 20, and I would encourage you to do the same. However, we cannot forget verse 18. Jesus says all authority has been given to Him (in heaven and on earth). That means there is no greater authority. Perhaps you do not recognize the force of this incredible declaration, but I bet every younger sibling does. If you are like me a younger sibling, you likely remember times when your parents put your older sibling in charge. That meant that you had to listen to what he or she said. Thankfully, I have a wonderful older brother and his instructions were not too crazy. However, there were times when my brother had instructed me to do one thing, and our parents had instructed me to do another. Who was I to follow? Should I follow my brother whom my parents placed in charge and was standing right in front of me or should I follow my parents’ instructions though they were not present physically. Obviously when those in authority over us give conflicting commands, we are to follow the highest authority. Jesus in verse 18 is declaring that He has all authority. That means that whenever we see another authority that is in conflict with the Lord, we should be listening to Jesus.
Notice what our Highest Authority has commissioned us to do. Go and make disciples of all nations. The manner in which we are to do that is by baptizing, discipling, and teaching folks about all that Jesus said. To put this another way, Christians are to help people come to know Jesus and follow Jesus everywhere. This means that our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else within our sphere of life needs to know about Jesus. Even more, as a Church we need to be sending folks to other parts of the country and world to communicate the gospel.
To be clear there are likely a bazillion different good ways to carry this out. Each church and to some degree each individual will need to develop ways and means to carry out the Lord Jesus’ Great Commission. Perhaps it means that you use your field of study or employment to draw analogies to the Scriptures. I heard one of our elders do that very thing just the other night. It was wonderful. Perhaps you can use geography. When I was a suit salesman, I would talk to customers while fitting them for their suit. Invariably, my being born in Indiana would come up. When the customer asked what I was doing in southeastern Pennsylvania, it became an opportunity to explain my time at seminary and the truth of the gospel.
Beyond individuals communicating the Lord Jesus to others, churches need to communicate the gospel as well. They need to do so by teaching and instructing those within the church to inculcate the Word of God. They also need to make concerted efforts to communicate the love of Christ to those outside the fellowship.
Because of the times in which we live, it is difficult to talk to one another. It is one thing to post on social media or to use the internet, but it is quite another thing to have a conversation in person. While I am grateful that you and I are able to meet together in this format, I confess, I would very much prefer to be with you in person. How are we to be faithful to the Lord Jesus as He has commissioned us? I suspect that it will be difficult, but start with those you see everyday in your home, across the street, or in the next cubicle. See how they are doing and be prepared to share how the love of Christ works in your own life. Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your rule over all things. We pray that we might be burdened for those around us and around the globe who do not know You. Give us insight both individually and as churches how we might be faithful witnesses to the work of the Lord Jesus and how we might communicate Your love to others. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.