Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. -Matthew 20:19-20
The Great Commission can be broken down into three essential pieces: GO, TELL, and TEACH. These can be fleshed out with the following 3 P’s:
- Presence (of Christ)
- Proclamation (of the Gospel)
- Process (of discipleship)
The Church is the presence of Christ on earth. The Church is His body. It is an amazing thing to think about, that Christ has entrusted His mission to the Church. We are God’s chosen instrument with which to engage the world on His behalf. So, why does the Church spend so much time cloistered behind its walls rather than being PRESENT where we would expect to find Christ?
Jesus’ command is explicit: “Go,” He says. He does not command us to stay and hope that our doors are darkened by those seeking Christ. It is ironic that the term “evangelical” pertains to politics rather than evangelism. The evangel has lost its meaning in contemporary context. Those that would find themselves under that label are highly unlikely to be evangelistic. According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 10% of people are willing to share their faith–whatever that faith may be. This holds true for “evangelicals.” How sad that Jesus says to “go” and so few obey!
If you have taken the time to read the other posts regarding the vision for the Community of Grace, you know that the vision hinges very much on PRESENCE. We must be obedient to Jesus’ command to GO, to be PRESENT among those who desperately need the Gospel. Like Jesus at Matthew’s house, surrounded by “sinners and tax collectors,” we must be found where we would expect to find Jesus. Jesus’ ministry was one of active engagement as He traveled, healing, teaching, and preaching. He raised a widow’s son in Nain while traveling along the road, healed blind Bartimeus while traveling to Jericho, and encountered diminutive Zaccheus in a tree as He passed by. He preached to an entire village while simply stopping for a drink of water.
But PRESENCE is just the beginning. We must GO, but must do more than minister to felt needs. The Church is more than a civic organization. The Rotary and Lions Clubs do good things in the community. The United Way in Framingham has a food pantry and soup kitchen. There are numerous non-profits and charitable organizations. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that sets the Church apart. That discussion will be filed under PROCLAMATION, but before we can PROCLAIM the Gospel, we must be PRESENT in the lives of those who would hear it.
Jesus says, “Go.” What will you do?