The Core of the Commission
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.” (Matthew 28:18-20,
My grandfather was a great man. No, he didn’t do anything great, in so much that the world would grant him any sort of accolades. He was great because I knew he loved me; without a doubt, he loved me. Our relationship was not perfect, but it was very good.
Everyone called him “Buck,” but I called him “Granddaddy” – pronounced “Grandiddy,” in the very rural northern Piedmont colloquial fashion. Buck loved to hunt. I know he liked to succeed, but I believe it was the actual hunt that he most enjoyed. I loved to be with him. Deer or no, it was him I wanted to spend time with. He loved
deer dogs and he loved to hear them “run” deer. Walker
One particular time Buck and I were standing in the edge of a field, on opposite ends, waiting for the dogs to run a deer across our path. The dogs quickly changed directions and Buck jumped in the truck and left; quickly, and without me. A bit dejected, but totally unconcerned, I sat down and waited. A couple of hours later he returned, mumbling something while handing me saltine crackers, a Pepsi and a can of Sardines.
Buck was committed to going after that deer. I’m also glad he was committed to our relationship. I am not sure if I knew the way home.
This is a true story, and I believe it’s a perfect illustration of the condition of most active local churches. Notice, I said active, meaning local bodies of believers who are doing something besides marking off Sundays and Wednesdays with building inhabitation. Active, in most cases, means programs and events and trips. Though it’s all organized, I am afraid we may be settling for less than the true calling God has privileged us to pursue. In other words, it seems our commitment to “go” is strong, but our pursuit of “make disciples” is lacking.
Events aren’t always easy, but they’re always temporary. That’s why we like them. This call to “go” fits right into the groove of events and short term missions and programs. We can heed the “go” part of the Great Commission and do all sorts of things, but the question is are we also pursuing the call to make disciples?
Making disciples is messy, never easy and always requires more commitment than feels natural or comfortable. However, I believe it’s what we are designed for, redeemed for and left here on this planet for. Making disciples is the call, command and commission and we should never settle for anything less.
The difficult part of accepting this assignment is also the blessed part. Namely, the church has to become relationship oriented again. Consider the Garden of Eden; it was only sin that caused Adam and Eve to hide from God. They were designed for fellowship with God, but sin corrupted original design. It not only ruined their relationship with the Lord, but it corrupted their relationship with each other and they felt shame before one another and before God.
Consider the Ten Commandments. As always, The Law reveals the nature of God, but the Ten Commandments show us an outline of relationship too. The first four commandments highlight the right attitudes and actions for our relationship with God.
· You shall have no other gods before Me
· You shall not make for yourself any idols
· You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain
· Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
He’s first; nothing else before Him or even as important as He is. Respect Him. Spend time set aside just to honor him. Those are pretty clear expectations for relationship.
The remaining six commandments reveal the most basic guidelines for not blowing relationships with others.
· Honor your father and mother
· You shall not murder
· You shall not commit adultery
· You shall not steal
· You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor
· You shall not covet
Think about it for a moment; if your friend tries to murder you, it’s probably going to have an effect on your relationship, right? Think through these others; any failure to respect these commands damages relationships.
Further, all the OT laws are extensions of these ten. They all reveal God’s nature and show us His desire for how we should relate to Him and relate to others.
And notice, too, that horizontal relationships, which are people to people in nature, are supplied out of the vertical relationship. Meaning, as we walk with God, He sets us right to minister to those around us.
Discipleship is certainly not only a New Testament phenomenon. It’s always been God’s way. Deuteronomy 6:5 sums up all the Law by commanding people to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” God clearly desires that whatever He says to us sinks beyond the realm of knowing into the reality of being. Deuteronomy 6:6 continues “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” But, God never meant for whatever He was doing in us to simply stay in us. Verse 7 gives us God’s expectation of what we’re to do with what He is saying and what we’re becoming: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
In everything we are hearing and becoming we are to translate to everyone in everything we’re saying and doing.
We know this is difficult. It requires believers to have full-time accountability and full-time activity. It’s a call to a life mission and a lifestyle; to always be in relation to God and to pass that relation on to others.
Many believers are active. Many have the “go” part down pat. Commendation should be gladly given to anyone seeking to serve the Lord. However, let’s not be half-measure people, especially when our half measure is missing the whole point. Going that does not meet the call to make disciples is short-sighted.
A new commitment to pursuing the mission God has given is predicated by a new commitment to pursue the privilege of being a disciple. We walk with God. We are disciples of Jesus. Then, we pass it on. We must be vertically bound and horizontally spent. That’s the only way it will work, because that’s the way God designed discipleship.
Jesus told the disciples “all authority has been given to Me.” Big stuff. Important. Jesus had the authority to send, equip and empower. What did He desire to use that authority for? You got it, making disciples. Go, or more accurately, as we’re going along in life, make disciples. Activity is not the call. We have activity just by living. Making disciples is the call of God.
The Apostle John succinctly embodied the core of the mission: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We proclaim what we’ve seen and heard and know and have experienced so that people might walk with us, and, more importantly, they might walk with Jesus. Disciples bidding others to walk with the Master, and not just with talk, but exemplifying the disciples life as we relate to the Master is the core of the mission.
Where does it start? It starts in the cash register.
In one episode some Pharisees were plotting to “entangle” Jesus in His words (Matthew 25:15). Instead of being entrapped by what His own words, Jesus discipled them. They wanted to know whether it was right to pay taxes to the Roman authorities. In His divine genius, Jesus asked them for a coin and questioned them, asking whose image was on the coin. The Pharisee contingency answered that it was Caesar’s image. Jesus’ replied, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's” (vs. 21). Then, Jesus dropped the hammer and gave us the method by which people are to serve the Lord. He continued by saying, render “…to God the things that are God's” (vs. 21). You all know Genesis says “let Us make man in Our image.” We are made in His image. We must render ourselves to God. We are His coinage. We must let Him spend us.
It’s simple. Our lives are not our own (ref: 1 Corinthians 6:20). We are to sent and spent. We are God’s coinage and He desires to invest us in humanity, making disciples, and teaching them to “observe” all that He’s commanded us.
We must continually render ourselves to God, sit at His feet, learn of Him and live the life of an intentional disciple maker. That’s the core of the commission: Disciple Making.
My grandfather was always sitting on go. Whether hunting, working or relaxing. He was always ready to do what needed and should be done. The good thing for me is he was also always sitting on “Come on, go with me” too.
Let’s be careful to adopt this mentality in our relationship with the Lord and others. Let’s sit on go, for sure, but let’s make sure our going is making disciples, not just passing time.