So, brothers and sisters of this local church, let us live out our faith together, but let us not forget that we have been commissioned to go to the nations, knowing that we are active participants in the Great Commission with our brothers and sisters around the world, and striving together in prayer, praying: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
Paul writes to the Ephesians, “[Christ] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). While not a comprehensive list of New Testament church offices, Paul reminds us of God’s chosen men and means of equipping and edifying the Beloved. As they are listed, we may be tempted to think of each as mutually exclusive, but that is not the case, and while this is typically the case, it’s not always the case.
As defined, a mystery is “Something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.” To solve a mystery we look for clues, relying upon deductive reasoning. Some mysteries are more easier to solve than others. For example, when we consider the general revelation of the universe, when we look at the splendor of the heavens and earth, it is not difficult to deduce that it was designed and created by God: Indeed, “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (1:20). It is not difficult to solve the mystery of creation’s origin, even a child can deduce it. It is only the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1).
Therefore, Christ has not commissioned us to do something we should not or that we cannot do. Rather, he has given us both the authority, through his Word, and the power, through his Spirit, to take the gospel to our neighbor and the nations, confidently pronouncing the forgiveness of sin that is found in Christ alone. And this is not a commission for some but for all of us, according to our gifting and calling. Some are called to go to other countries to different people with different languages. Some are called to serve here, continuing to make and mature disciples, administer the sacraments, and preach the Word. But all of us are called to pray for and support the ministry of the church, in her going, sending, and equipping, which we do in the authority and power of Christ Jesus our Lord, who is with us always, to the end of the age.
If we are to go into all nations, making, sealing, and teaching, our going must be motivated by something greater than subduing or separating from cultural circumstances. Running for the hills to hide every time the winds of culture change is not what Jesus meant by going and making disciples. And mourning the supposed demise of the church because of political change does not testify to the truth that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ. Our going, like our redemption, is to be grounded in the grace of God in Christ. It was only after the Lord revealed himself to Isaiah, giving him the grace to confess and be forgiven, that he could say, “Here I am! Send me,” and be sent into the most difficult of circumstances. When our hearts are captivated by our cultural circumstances, we tend to retreat into protectionism, but when our hearts are captive to the grace of God, we will have a heart for our neighbor and the nations.
The Great Commission then is only understood in the context of the church, for it is the church who mobilizes missions, making disciples, administering the sacraments, teaching the Word, and enjoying Christ’s on-going presence in our very existence. Therefore, do not heed those who would lead you to see the lost as your adversary, and do not run from the Great Commission by retreating into your holy huddle. Through the church we are to live out the Great Commission. The world is before us, so let us be going, making, sealing, and teaching, as we are ultimately one body worshiping one Lord who is with us always, to the end of the age.
Brothers and sisters, stop living in fear and start praying for souls. Stop consuming all that bad news and start sharing the Good News. Stop critiquing your neighbors’ politics and start telling them about Christ’s kingdom. Because, we have not yet reached the end, so look and “see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
In other words, the need of all people, is met in compassion for all people (namely the gospel of Jesus Christ), that God may receive praise from all people. The gospel is an invitation to come and praise the Lord forever. Let all the people sing!