The Great Commission (part 2)

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Oct 06, 2009 by Alex Mekonnen | 0 Comments

II.  Go therefore.

Going out of Israel was not the popular trend of the Jews of Jesus’ time. Coming to Jerusalem was. During their festivity, like Passover and Pentecost, the number of Jews in Jerusalem was swelling. They come from near and far; including those who were in exile.

Those who lived outside of Israel, while they pray, were facing towards Jerusalem. The only holy of holies was in that city. The only high priest who was the mediator of the nation served in the temple that existed in Jerusalem. The restoration of the kingdom of Israel was expected to happen there. Even the Galilean apostles had congregated in Jerusalem hoping Isaiah’s prophecy (43:5-7) to be fulfilled in their time. As the Samaritan woman rightly commented, the “Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship” (4:20).

Let us not assume the disciples had a different worldview than a common Jew. Their last question had nothing to do with the church but the stability of their nation. They asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).  If we were in their shoes we could not blame them. Even Jesus did not rebuke them for asking political question. For five hundred years, with the interval of few years, Israel had been the political pink-pock of the then super powers—Babylon, Persia, Syria, Greek, Egypt, now Rome. They were hungry for freedom, justice, and political stability. Their natural resources were controlled by foreign power. Their people were living in abject poverty. In their own land their freedom was limited. The Roman rulers had power to crucify their leader—Jesus Christ. The Roman tax was unbearable.

To the disciples the restoration of the kingdom of Israel was a burning issue. For Jesus Christ, mission was his prime importance. He loved mankind including the gentiles so much so that the political freedom of Israel was secondary to mission and the proclamation of the kingdom of God. And yet the apostles were reluctant to leave Jerusalem. The Lord had to use the death of Stephen, James, the persecution of the church and the imprisonment of Peter to disperse them from Jerusalem.

Going demands commitment and sacrifice. Emotionally, financially, and socially, a missionary pays costly price. Mission is dynamic not static. It demands going, flexibility, and adjustment. A missionary service is not an adventure. It is a call. Unless you are certain on this, don’t do it. If you’re sure of your calling, don’t waste your time.

Going for the church is not an option. The task is predestined even before Christ was born. Isaiah said; “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things” (Isa. 52:7). The Psalmist concurs: “Their sound has gone out to the end of the earth and their words to the ends of the world” (Ps 19:4).  When we go out with the message of gladtidings we leave people not with a choice of belief and disbelief but a choice of life and death. A missionary, like his Master, is both a peace maker and disturber of peace.

Evangelical mission is not a dialogue that encourages tolerance and political correctness. It is proclamation under the authority of Jesus Christ. Tolerance and pluralism which is highly encouraged by enlightenment has killed the every church that was instrumental for mission. “The content of the church proclamation is therefore not just anything and everything. The church’s message to the world is not about the energy crisis, pollution, white or black power, détente, the Israeli-Arab conflict, ad infinitum. It is the very specific word of God. The church is called to proclaim what God says and does. Unless it verbally articulates and communicates the revelation of God, the church has no distinctive right to be heard, to survive, or even to exist.  Nor is the Christian minister anything and everything….. He is primarily the proclaimer of God’s revealed word.  Unless he declares the revelation of God he has no unique vocational claim and standing” (  Carl F.H. Henry Vol. 2, 1976:22). Exactly, that is what the apostles did.

Jesus sent out the disciples knowing that Bethlehem and Jerusalem will soon be replaced by Antioch and Athens as the pulse centre of the kingdom of God. Through time, the center of Christianity shifted from the Middle East and the Mediterranean region to Europe “In 1792, when a cobbler in Northamptonshire, England, issued a call for world mission, almost ninety percent of the Christian community shared his racial identity: Caucasian.  The Cobbler, William Carey—also reflected a geographical reality: Three out of every four Christians in the world resided in Europe and North America” (Gerald H. Andersen, Robert T. Coote, et al , 1994:xvii).  So many missionaries followed his example and evangelized the world. Today, seventy percent of Christians exist in non-Western world.  In order to do mission, we either has to be messengers or senders.  A professed evangelical Christian cannot be neutral or indifferent to mission. With billions of people still without Christ the church should not stop going.


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