What component of discipleship to Jesus is critical? If we simply take the Great Commission at face value, Jesus is sending His disciples into the world to announce to the whole world, the news that God’s Kingdom is here and available for all! It is the life you’ve deeply wanted and includes forgiveness, peace, joy, meaning, and stability to name just a few characteristics. And all of this now and into eternity!
This has been God’s heart from the beginning! We see this in Genesis 13 where Abram is given a promise that is again given more specificity in Genesis 17. Abram will be the father of many nations! From the beginning God was going to use a man to bless the entire world (does that sound familiar?). Then we see further clarity as it relates to the nation of Israel in Numbers 6:22-27 when Aaron is instructed to offer a benediction to the people: You are blessed to be a blessing. If you want to understand the comprehensiveness of God’s heart for mission read Christopher Wright’s outstanding book, The Mission of God.
What should astound us is the Great Commission is not new. God always has had a heart for all people, for all time. God’s desire has been to use His people, especially those who have been blessed with the gospel, the Kingdom in all of it’s resources presently available, to be a blessing to those around us. One of our greatest problems as Christians is that we isolate mission. We study it and we build programs for mission. Those are helpful but they tend to isolate it in an unhealthy way from the rest of the Christian life in a way where people often conclude, “That’ not my ‘calling'”. We end up with what Wright calls a “missionary stereotype.”
Your following Christ was never intended just for you. It was always with this sense that as the gospel grips your heart so you will be “propelled” or some translations use the word “constrained” (2 Cor. 5:1-15). It literally means a pressing in on all sides. It certainly doesn’t mean that you are forced to tell people about Jesus. The meaning (and context) is clearly that as the gospel takes root in your heart, it has nowhere to go but out of you!
So here’s an intense exercise: what if you saw your job as a mission field? What if God actually sent you there and paid you (through your employer) to represent His Son through the quality of your work, contributing to the common good of people, and to talk about Jesus in very natural ways? Or what if you began to see that even a trip to the grocery store can be an opportunity to represent? I’ll give a few more specific thoughts about mission in my next blog…