The Overwhelming Great Commission
by John Crotts, Faith Bible Church
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the Great Commission?
When Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19) have you ever wondered how can I possibly do that? It seems like a goal impossible to achieve.
When could a person ever look at the Great Commission and settle back and say, “Well, by God’s grace, I have been faithful to do all that Jesus wanted me to do?”
A Christian’s relationship with God is not based on their own performance, but instead is based upon Jesus’ performance in his life, death and resurrection. But because of what he has done, I certainly want to serve him with everything that is in me. The Lord Jesus has also made it clear that he expects his servants to be faithful.
Being faithful to fulfill the Great Commission involves a recognition that it is a bigger deal and a different deal than many Christians realize.
First, think about what is actually involved in accomplishing Jesus’ final charge. What individual Christian could ever possibly make disciples of every nation? Even if you could make one Christian convert in every country in the almanac, as amazing as that would be, you still wouldn’t have been faithful to do what Jesus requires you to do.
The idea of “making disciples of all nations” is not about the countries of the globe. It actually means “people groups,” which is an even smaller unit than citizens within national boundaries. In other words, it is not enough to make an Arabic disciple in Iraq, you also need to make a disciple among the Kurds that live in northern Iraq. The Kurds would be just one example of a specific people that live within the border of a bigger country.
These people groups have their own separate languages and cultures. There are 194 countries in the world today, but there are more than16,000 people groups. Plus, Jesus didn’t ask us to make a convert from all of these people groups, but to make disciples, which includes taking the time to teach them all of the things Jesus commanded his disciples.
So, is it possible to faithfully obey the Great Commission? I think so.
The key is recognizing secondly, that the Great Commission is different than most people realize. It is a group project, not an individual one. While it can be inspiring to read biographies of men and women in church history that have tried to conquer the world for Christ on their own, or in their organization, that really isn’t the way Jesus designed it to happen.
Jesus didn’t give the Great Commission to an individual super hero Christian, but instead he gave it to us all. The Resurrected Jesus gave this commission to the 11 disciples according to Matthew 28:16. But probably this was the occasion when he also appeared to more than five-hundred of his followers at once (I Corinthians 15:6), since this meeting in Galilee was the only set appointment Jesus made to meet his followers after he rose from the dead.
Either way – it is a group commission, not an individual commission. Since the apostles are the foundation of the new church (Ephesians 2:20), we can even say it is a church group commission, and not an individual Christian mission.
Local churches gather together to worship God and grow spiritually, but then they scatter about their communities to live out their Christian lives and tell others about Jesus. As those people hear about Jesus, some respond in repentance and faith. They are then baptized and taught more about Jesus from the Bible in their church.
These local churches also seek to do their bit in bringing the gospel to peoples in other cultures, whether that be to other people groups within their own country or to peoples in other countries. Christians in churches participate by praying for these gospel workers, giving money to support them in the work, praying for them and their families, rejoicing by staying informed about the progress of the labors and for some actually going.
Those who go learn a new language and culture – and share the gospel with those in the new place. The goal of these international workers is to see new people brought to Christ and formed into brand new church families where the whole process can repeat itself in that place – locally and cross culturally.
So how can an individual Christian be faithful to the Great Commission?
Be faithful to do your bit locally and cross-culturally. Be involved with a local church. Worship and grow as a Christian. Help those around you to grow too. Reach out to those the Lord brings your way. Take the initiative to try for a gospel conversation. Pray for unbelievers. Invite others to your church.
But also, do those things to help your church take the gospel across cultural barriers. Pray, give, rejoice and go.
A church can then be faithful by doing its bit in the Great Commission. Take the initiative to be informed about what is going on in the world. Support and raise up like-minded individuals and families to go to the world. Pray for direction.
The Lord will arrange your circumstances so that you will know your bit. Devote time, energy, prayers, sermons, newsletters and money to doing that part that Jesus assigns to your church.
You can’t do it all, but you can do your bit. A single church can’t do it all, but it can do its bit. Churches can work together to help each other do their part.
If all of the Lord’s people work to help all of the Lord’s churches do their bits, the mission will be accomplished! Don’t be overwhelmed by the giant goal, just be faithful to do your bit.
Jesus will see and be delighted by your faithfulness.