The Great Commission is one of those sets of verses so often repeated it often falls on deaf ears. This has certainly been the case with me before.
Once something becomes overly familiar we can often replace the words with our own feelings or attachments. Of course, this is a dangerous thing to do. Because in doing so, we miss the originally intended meaning.
While rereading the book of Matthew recently, I was trying to avoid falling into just this trap. It proved well worth it.
Upon reading the Great Commission, I noticed a singular word which had never “popped out” at me before. The word?
Here is the Commission so you can see this in context:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matt. 28: 19-20
I could not get past this word as I went back over the passage.
It lept off the page in dramatic fashion. So I began to linger on the word.
Upon reflection, these are the thoughts that came to me:
- The Commission can be broken down into two parts: baptism and continuing discipleship. Christians have become very good at the first part. It is the continuing discipleship area where much work is needed. The baptism is the beginning of one’s walk with Christ, not the end. We must not forget this.
- There seems to be no qualms with obeying the teachings of Jesus - as long as its the teachings which seem to agree with the culture at large.
- Disciplers have much work to do (and need much prayer) when it comes to teaching disciples to obey all the teachings of Jesus. It is easy to shy away from hot button issues such as gay marriage or abortion. But leaving these teachings out, especially at such a critical time, does fledgling disciples much harm in the end by giving them a slighted version of Jesus’ teachings.
- There is a real lack in Christian culture today of a holistic view of orthodoxy. Christians in the past, even as recently as the days of Billy Graham’s thriving ministry, were more united on social and moral issues. Today, you have sharp divides on moral and social issues, even those which are clearly spoken to in the Bible.
Remember, the Great Commission is two-fold: we are sent to make disciples of all nations by first baptizing and, second, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.
A partial truth is no truth at all.
Grayson Pope is a Christ-follower, husband, and father, right in the middle of his story. But mostly he's just a parched soul in search of God's Living Water. You can read more from Grayson here.