The Commission According to Us

“Therefore go and provide access to the gospel for all unreached people groups, engaging them 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. If you get your strategy right, I’ll be right there beside you until you finish the task.”

This is not the Great Commission found in Matthew 28. It is, however, our much-improved interpretation of those final earthly instructions Jesus gave to His disciples and (therefore) to the church. You’ll notice quite a bit of jargon in there, but don’t be alarmed, It all makes sense to us, and we’re the professionals. We’ve made some slight modifications to the wording in order to help make the our obedience in the matter much more organized and easily measured; two things that certainly matter to Jesus. He clearly didn’t have time to expound on His instructions, (what with His impending ascension into heaven and all), so we’ve added some vital details.

He said “I have the authority, so make disciples.” What He obviously meant was “engage” them. Get at least one person to adopt each group, and you can check them off your list. The bit about “all nations?” Time and social sciences have demonstrated that people are organized into static, measurable “people groups” that we need to reach in order to fulfill the Commission. We know where the unreached ones are. If only we had enough people or enough money, we could engage them all right here and now.

“Make disciples” is clearly a euphemism for “provide them with access to the gospel,” isn’t it? If we can just get the Bible (the most gospely parts, of course) translated into words, pictures, or dramatic re-enactments that the people will understand, we’ll be well on our way. After all, “God’s word will not return void,” right? Incarnation isn’t necessary, information is the key.

Sure Jesus is with us, but only if we’re on the front lines, driving back lostness. It’s fine if you want to live in South America, just don’t call yourself a missionary. We reached them already. Now it’s on them to compete with the Mormons, atheists, and Mary-worshipers. There are enough Christians there already– if we do it for them, they’ll never be as mature as we are (spiritually, I mean).

So we’re missions-minded people, engaging people groups and providing access to the gospel. We can do it. If not, why would Jesus have commanded us to go? If the task isn’t finishable, it could, like, go on forever. If you really want Jesus to come back, you should adopt an unengaged, unreached people group today.

3 thoughts on “The Commission According to Us

  1. Good post. I think some, if it wasn’t so black and white, would leave out the phrase, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” as well.

    As I see it, the fulfillment of the Great Commission has an aspect that is wide in scope, and another that is deep. If we concentrate on one aspect to the neglect of the other, we have effectively been disobedient to the Great Commission.

    Now, this does not deny the fact that some, like Paul, have a specific calling, and burden, to “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that [he] would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Rom. 15:20). But even Paul made sure, after he moved on, he always sent someone like Titus to “straighten out what was left unfinished” (Titus 1:5), when there was a need for it.

    I believe the “end-vision” of the Great Commission, is best expressed in Eph. 4:12-15: “that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

    I also believe Jesus did not just leave this “task” in the hands of professional missionaries, but rather in the hands of “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, [as it] grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).

    None of this takes away from the fact that “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men” (1 Cor. 12:4-6), and, that, in the interest of good stewardship, different members often concentrate on different aspects of the “task.”

  2. It’s such an encouragement to read critical words of Spirit-led mission’s strategy given to the church by godly men and women. Instead of ridiculing, just keep sharing the Gospel with those who have already heard and some of us will focus on sharing it with those who haven’t had a chance. Neiher of these two “works” are better than the other, so when you feel led to criticize, just shut your pie hole!

  3. Hesham,
    I’m sorry you couldn’t see past the sarcastic tone of the post to engage with my point– that popular understanding of the church’s mission is quite different from what we read in Matthew 28. I’m not saying ministry among “reached” people is better than ministry among the “unreached.” In fact, I think missions requires strategic focus and planning, and that we need to be obedient no matter where God leads us.

    As I read through your sarcasm, I can tell that you’re concerned about people who have not had a “chance” to hear about Jesus. So am I. I imagine, though, that you and I might not agree on what qualifies as a “chance.” That’s okay. Please do as God leads you. But let’s be sure our definition of mission comes from the Bible.

    Over the years, I’ve been told to be quiet and not to “question” or “complain” so much. More than once, I’ve walked away from blogging here because I don’t enjoy hostile comments. But here I am, blogging away, because it’s important to me that we never stop questioning whether what we’re doing is what the Bible says we should be doing. Sometimes, I write thoughtful posts trying to reasonably outline my question or point of view. Other times, (as in this post), I employ sarcasm in an attempt to illustrate the absurdity of this “new and improved” understanding of missions. Offending you was not my goal. I apologize for that. My goal was to get you to think. I’m not sure I succeeded.

    For an example of what led me to write this post, please see El Chupacabra’s post from today, Droppin’ Evangelism Bombs.

    “When we were preparing to move here to Costa Rica, someone told us that Costa Rica was a good “first step” missions location.”

    Thanks for reading. My “pie hole” is shut.

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