Growing up, I always thought of missionaries as these super-Christians whom God personally directed to the jungles of Indonesia and the plains of Africa. In my elementary-school brain, these missionaries all had a certain spiritual status–something that the ordinary Christian was not gifted with. Only these missionaries could do missions because they had actually heard the voice of God telling them to go. But, if a missionary actually has to receive a direct command from the mouth of Christ to go, then the 11 original disciples are just about the only humans who were qualified to do missions. After all, those are the only ones who received a direct, in-person, command from Jesus. Right?
The Great Commission
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Great Commission is the core biblical rationale for cross-cultural missions. And this command to “Go and make disciples” was given to a paltry bunch of ragged Jews, who, frankly, probably needed a direct command from the lips of Jesus himself in order to venture beyond their Jewish neighbors. The Great Commission is a command to the entire body of Christ, and also to each individual Christian, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Not called, but commanded
Writing off the Great Commission as irrelevant to you is an excuse. We tend to write this Commission off because we are afraid of the consequences if this command relates to each of our lives. If we are afraid, then our view of God is inaccurate.
Francis Chan says this particularly well in Crazy Love: “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers” (p.22).
The Great Commission applies to every Christian, and it is most certainly a command from God that requires everything from you. The fact is that God has called each and every one of us to missions. Your plans and dreams for your life are completely irrelevant if you have given Christ lordship over your life. As David Platt said at Urbana this past December, “Christian, you have lost the right to call the shots in your own life.” If you are a Christian, you are
called commanded to missions. Period.
I will continue to unpack exactly what that looks like.