Friday, April 20, 2012
The Great Recommendation
I"m sure most people who either are Christians or claim to be one have heard of (or heaven forbid have actually read) Mathew 28:19-20. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NASB)
Contextually, this verse is after the resurrection of Jesus, when He has sent word to His disciples (through Mary and Mary) to go into Galilee and He will meet them there. He then reveals His divine authority (verse 18), and gives them instruction as to what to do when He ascends: Go and Make Disciples. Now, any times this verse is used in preaching when it comes to missions. Often preachers will highlight the verb "Go", and challenge their congregation to go overseas to serve. Now there is nothing wrong with challenging people to go overseas and serve. It is to be applauded. However, it is important to note that the primary verb in this passage is the greek word which translates "make disciples".
This is an important distinction. Simply saying "go" does not really give any direction. If I tell you to "go", your first response will be "where? why? how?" This is because I have simply told you to go, without elaborating on exactly what it is I am telling you to do. Christ said to "make disciples". He had a specific goal in mind as He gave instruction to His disciples. He wanted them, as His disciples, to go and multiply themselves. To tell everyone of what they had saw and learned. In the first century, this would have been fairly commonplace. Philosophers and religious leaders alike practiced their craft this way. They would gather followers who would go with them wherever they went, and when they had learned all the teacher had to teach them, they went and gathered their own disciples. The difference with Christ lay in His divinity, and His spiritual mission: namely to bring mankind back into a right fellowship with Himself, God almighty.
You are probably wondering why this is titled "The Great Recommendation". You are probably used to hearing it called the "Great Commission". I do this to highlight an attitude many Christians seem to have adopted: namely that making disciples is a part of their "christianity" that they don't see as necessary. It's all well and good to talk about it, and even to support others who actually do it, but I don't have to get involved myself. So they see this as God's "Great Recommendation" that "Hey, this is something that you might be interested in."
This is not the case at all. This verse is an imperative COMMAND. There is no choice involved. If you really wanna follow Christ, and have a relationship with Him, you MUST make disciples. It is one of the primary disciplines of our relationship with Him. But so many people miss the boat on this. They have this attitude that "that's for preacher boys", or "that's for those Christians, but not for me." I am frightened when I hear people speak this way. I fear for their spiritual condition. Because if you do not have a desire to share the Gospel, odds are it's because you don't understand the Gospel yourself. A desire to tell others, and to properly disciple others is a natural overflow of our wonder and excitement over what God has done for us. So this attitude is I think a reflection of an un-regenerate at worst, immature and misunderstanding at best heart. It is this commitment to put in the time, effort, and love to make disciples that separates those who simply "talk the talk", and those who have a real and growing relationship with Christ.
So examine yourself. Do you really have a devoted relationship with Christ? Do you have a desire to tell others about what God has done for you? If so, what are you doing about it? Are you simply talking about and studying how to make disciples without doing anything about it? Ask these questions, and pray to the Lord that He open your eyes and heart to have a proper perspective and attitude about making disciples.