"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Wall Design

“You are now entering the mission field.” a wall design reads above the door as I exit my church. It has been there for some time. There are times now, I no longer notice it. It has simply become part of the décor. But the truth of that message is always at the back of my mind, and I rest in the comfort that my church is one that recognizes such an important commitment and encourages members to walk in that instruction. I was so moved the first time I read it because of the simplicity of its message. It is very simply a reminder of the Great Commission given us by Jesus before He ascended into glory.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” ~Matthew 28: 19-20
I believe there are a number of ways in which we can spread that Truth. It doesn’t mean we have to stand on a street corner and preach “repentance or suffer eternal consequences”, although there may be a time for that. It doesn’t mean we have to go door to door with tracts and Bibles and other literature. Certainly there may be a time one is led to do that. It doesn’t mean we have to stand before a crowd and share our personal testimony; although, there may be a time the Lord leads us to do that as well. Most often, the sharing of the Gospel is begun by offering an encouraging word, offering tangible aid, or maybe by offering an invitation to church. Most often, it may be revealed through our walk which others may be observing even without our knowledge. The way we live our life is our greatest testimony, and if that doesn’t line up with the rest of Jesus’ teaching, we quite possibly do more harm than good. One thing I know; if we are to bring others into the fold, we must live lives that represent something worth seeking.

What is often overlooked in this command is that the Great Commission is three-fold. Not only are we (1) to spread the Good News about Jesus, we are then told to (2) baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. This demonstrates a commitment. And further, (3) to teach those whom are receptive, to observe all that Jesus taught. We are not to invite one to salvation and then just leave him there all alone.

When asked once during an interview what Rev. Billy Graham’s biggest regret might be, he responded that he wished he had done more follow-up with those that had responded to his Gospel message. Rev. Graham understood the need to aid in the instruction of new believers; to welcome them, to instruct them and to encourage faith, fellowship, and righteousness. Staying in the Word and staying in fellowship is the key to ones growth.

One thing is certain; this is an instruction that begins with the word “go”. It isn’t a suggestion, it is a command. Obviously we are not all able to go to foreign lands where the Gospel is so desperately needed. What I believe the Lord intends us to see, is that there is no place where His message isn’t desperately needed. We all came from one of those places and we would be wise to remember from where we came. There is no room for pride in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One can’t bring some one else along until they have first traveled that path they hope to offer some one else. It is to start with us individually and it doesn’t always necessarily begin with words. There is no high place to begin while we work our way down. We must start at the Foundation, the Chief Cornerstone, and work our way out.

We worry about the state of our church and sometimes act as if we will undoubtedly lose it. I’m sure if it depended merely on us we surely would. But God promises us that He is building His church and He will never lose it. That comforting promise though, doesn’t excuse us from doing our part. Jesus assures us in this passage that we all have a part in the Great Commission and it isn’t simply about bringing people in to the Kingdom; it also includes helping those that come, learn how to live there. The best vessel to achieve this end is the local church, where a multitude of gifts come together to be utilized in directing the fulfillment of the Great Commission….every part of it.

Finally the Great Commission comes with a wonderful promise for us to share. Jesus tells us: “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” What an important message to share with those whom have never known our Savior. He promised to be with us always. We never have to be alone. The scarier and more conflicted this world becomes, that’s a mighty important thing to remember. How fitting His final words on earth, would offer a promise that comforts.

While there are some that are called into foreign missions, it is not typically most. But that doesn’t excuse the rest of us from the mission field right where we live right now, wherever it is that we might call home. With all the chaos in the world these days, I am thankful for a church willing to remind and equip its members to be witnesses on a mission field the Lord intended specifically for us – the one right where we are.

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