Jesus’ Commands Were Not Serving Suggestions

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A new semester has begun, and I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the new routine is squashing my missional mind. It was so easy to be intentional in creating spiritual conversations with people whilst we were on holidays – we had all the time in the world to discuss the things that matter, now there’s limited time and an annoying lecturer disrupting our conversation! Nevertheless, here are some reasons to keep a mission focus in our daily lives:

Jesus’ final command to the disciples should be the first in our priorities

Jesus told His followers:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matthew 28:19, NIV). It is an imperative. A command given to all Christ’s followers and if we call ourselves Christ’s follower, it should be of upmost important to us. Let’s unpack it a little…

1. What are we being asked to do?

Ezekiel 3:11 says “Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” That is what we are being called to do. Go and speak to those who’s hearts are captive to the lies of this world and set them free being telling them the Truth, regardless of whether they acknowledge the Truth or not.

We are enormously important in God’s plan to reconcile the world to Him.

Romans 10:14-15 reminds us, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? … ”

We are the sent ones. Even when it is unpopular, even when it is not received, we need to actively pursue opportunities to speak to others about Jesus Christ – we need to present the Gospel as often as possible!

2. What happens if we don’t follow this commandment?

The consequences for disobedience are heavy, dear reader. They are not to be taken lightly.

John 14:15 is pretty clear. Jesus tells His followers: “If you love me, keep my commands.” If we do not keep His commandments, we cannot claim to love Him, and we therefore cannot be considered His followers. What other measure for love is there than to obey without thought to reward?

When someone is in love, it seems, no distance is too far to travel, no task is too big to complete for the one they love. It’s not work, because the action of love generates joy for both parties. That is how it should be with our service to Christ. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments just because we love Him! Not because we feel we have to.

But the consequences of not obeying His commandments run much deeper. Ezekiel 33:5-6 is an ominous warning: “Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves.But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.”

If we do not share the Gospel with the people in our world, we have not only sealed their judgement, but we have sealed ours too. It would be as if you and several friends were stranded in a desert. Together, you know hunger, fatigue and thirst. You find an oasis that alleviates your suffering and ensures your salvation, but in your selfishness, you neglect to tell your friends. You have sealed your friends’ deaths, and what’s worse, you are a terrible friend! You hold the key to their salvation, yet you have not shared it with them.

3. What would it look like if every Christian intentionally followed this commandment in Matthew 28:19?

The world would certainly know we are Christians – whether they like it or not.

If we lived in community sharing each victory and burden, keeping each other accountable to this commandment, the Kingdom of God would be visible on earth!

We often associate the Kingdom of God with Heaven. But if Jesus is the visible manifestation of God’s ruling presence (Matthew 28:18, Colossians 1:15) and if that power exists indwelling us (Romans 8:11), then all that is required for the Kingdom of God to be present on earth is for His followers to be living in recognition of His kingship over our lives. A kingdom cannot be separated from its king – where He is, there the kingdom shall be.

In many ways, we have overlooked the importance of what Jesus says in John 18:36. We read it as saying “My kingdom is not of this world” and assume that that means His kingdom cannot exist here. But, when questioned by the Pharisees in Luke 17:20-21, Jesus responds by saying that the kingdom of God is neither here, nor there, but rather it is amongst them – meaning Him.

The same spirit that raised Jesus from the grave is within us. According to the Trinity principle, that means that Jesus is always with us, through the Holy Spirit. We just need to acknowledge and release His power in the same way His first followers did when they actively followed Him and professed His rulership over their lives.

4. Where are the mission fields in our lives?

It amazes me how white-collar God can be. I hear a lot of people saying “God has not call me to the missions, He’s called me to a comfortable life as an accountant.” Great. We need accountants and we especially need Christian accountants, as we need Christians in every field. THAT IS YOUR MISSION FIELD! We are not all called to live amongst the world’s poorest and that’s not to say that those who are called to these places are any better or worse Christians than the rest of us. EVERYWHERE is a mission field if there is even one person found who has not realised the power and truth of Jesus Christ.

Mark 16:15 echos Matthew 28:19 when it says “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. Are your workmates part of creation? What about your classmates? Neighbours? Friends? Are they part of creation?! Then there’s your mission field!

In both scriptures (Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15) it says to GO. That is, take the initiative. Not wait for others to come to you with questions (although, of course, don’t deny those who come with questions!) We are not only called to make a stand when questioned (1 Peter 3:15), but we are to actively look for ways that we can share our faith daily.

Ideally, if every member of the Church is operating effectively, a day should not go by without every unbeliever having the opportunity to hear the Gospel message. That’s a big task right? Well. Lucky we have a BIG God!

In our weekly meeting last Tuesday, Geoff reminded us that statistics seem to suggest that on average it takes five encounters with a Christian before a person can formulate their opinion on Christianity. The poor perspective people have of our faith should be ample reason for us to make every encounter a meaningful one!

Everyone is on a spiritual journey whether they admit it or not. We are on this earth to discover the Truth. We who have the Truth are now tasked with enlightening those around us. Many will not receive it. But we are called only to present it. Student Life’s mission statement says we are to “take the initiative in sharing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God”. If people don’t receive us, we are to shake the dust off our feet (Luke 9:5) and move on to the next person. They may not have been ready for harvesting yet, but at least they have had a positive encounter with a Christian. It certainly does not mean that God has ceased working in their life.

As Ezekiel 33:6 makes plainly clear, once we have given the message, we are no longer responsible for the decisions that are made. But if we do not give the message, we are responsible for every neglectful decision causing eternal damnation in that person’s life.

And that, dear reader, is why we do what we do with such urgency.

Emma.

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