"Go therefore and make disciples of nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
When Jesus gave the disciples the great commission, He was specific on what He expected them to do. Does this command also apply to those of us interested in missions?
Notice how Jesus told them to go to other nations. Imagine how these former fishermen must have felt! They probably had never left the region ever in their entire lives.
I know for me, leaving the United States to go on a mission trip to Slovakia in 2009 was a difficult decision. I had left the U.S. before for a vacation, but this was different. Why? I found that heading to an unknown land to meet up with strangers was scary!
But, as with all things, the Lord took over and all was well.
During our missions conference, our teacher spoke about being willing to go...and willing to stay.
There is work to do on a mission trip. That's the one thing I did expect...and I was not disappointed.
I would collapse into bed each night from exhaustion! I never imagined we'd have so much to do, yet it made the days fly by.
When Jesus told His disciples to "make disciples..." one can infer that He meant it would take work. God calls people to Himself, but we believers need to go and teach others about the Word of God.
The next verb the Lord used was "teach". Not everyone knows how to teach or is called to teach. Does that mean that not every believer is a missionary?
Every believer has been called to go! Sometimes it means going across the sea or going across the street. But go we must...
And one thing I have learned is that you cannot teach what you do not know. If you are called to teach God's word, you must learn God's Word and one way to learn it is to READ it.
Cross-cultural contextualization is a process that all believers must learn. This process means we, as American Christians, must know how to take that Gospel message to other cultures.
You're thinking Africa, right?
But what about San Francisco? What about Little Rock? How would you approach a teenage boy who lives in Oakland and has been prostituting himself out to men for drug money?
His culture is apparent. How do you go, make, teach this young man the Gospel of Christ?
How do you approach a young woman sick with HIV? How do you approach a young woman in a Hispanic culture? Do you approach her the same way as you would approach a white middle class teen girl?
These are all aspects of cross-cultural context that each Christian needs to consider. Not only for other nations, but for people right here in the USA.
Jesus is With You
Perhaps the most comforting part of the commission was Jesus telling them that He would always be with them. What a blessing!
Jesus commanded us to Go...we must be willing to stay....and most of all we must be ready to work!
As I prepare to go on a mission trip, I am keeping all these aspects of mission work in mind.
My prayer is that you will too!
Your Turn: What aspects of the Great Commission concern you? Do you consider yourself a missionary with a mission field? Why or why not?