Has the Church Forgotten Its Task?
I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of time we as believers put in to “doing” church. There is a never-ending deluge of conferences, retreats, board meetings, choir practices, devotionals, books, and sermons to choose from; however, the average Christian has never shared their faith with an unbeliever. While these activities are not bad, it seems to me we have spent so much time doing Christian things that we may have forgotten the very task that God has entrusted to us. God did not leave us without purposefully outlining a task that is attainable and measurable. We refer to this task as the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These are not merely words to memorize, yet a strategic action plan for the Glory of God.
- Authority of Christ As believers we do not operate on our own; rather, we operate on the authority of Christ who is seated above all things (Ephesians 1:20-23), to extend the reach of God’s Kingdom.
- We Are to GO! You can study this passage in the original Greek, translate it to Arabic, Spanish or Hebrew and go will always mean go! The commission that God has given us is an action which he has called you and me to do.
- Make Disciples This is what we have been called to do; we are to make disciples. We are looking to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people will come to faith and actively pursue a life lead by the Holy Spirit so that they can replicate the process and make more disciples.
- All the Nations This means our goal for evangelism should be every people group. The original term for nations referred to ethnic groups that were linguistically distinct, not politically organized. In Revelation 7:9-10 we find the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless every nation through the seed of Abraham. (Genesis 12:2-3) At the end of days, there will be a people from every nation, every tribe, every tongue, and every language praise God for his salvation.
- Baptizing and Teaching God gives us a game plan for making disciples. Baptizing demonstrates that they are identifying with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. (Romans 6:1-4) Secondly, we are to follow up by teaching them to obey Jesus. Being a disciple is not simply an artificial declaration, rather a change that results in a new creation through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I began this article by suggesting we have forgotten the task at hand, but that is not to say that the Church has not made any headway concerning the Great Commission. In 1974, leaders from all over the globe rallied behind the late Billy Graham in Lausanne, Switzerland to rediscover the state of evangelism in our world. What later became known as the Lausanne Covenant devised a plan to plant “A church for every people” (a people group being a culturally and linguistically distinct grouping) by the year 2000. While this goal was not met by the year 2000, the call to action gave people the affirmation they needed to actually do something to further God’s Kingdom on earth. In 1976 there were an estimated 17,000 unreached people groups in the world and today there a just over 7,000! It is said that one out of every 8 people on the planet is now a practicing Christian! (Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge, Ralph D. Winter & Bruce A. Koch)
While this is great news, the sad reality is that there are 3.14 billion individual souls that make up 7,078 people groups who have no known believer and no known church among them! That’s over 41% of the global population without access to a viable indigenous church (a church lead by those whom you are reaching). While we have hundreds of thousands of global missionaries currently serving, only 10% of those missionaries are working within unreached people groups. (Joshuaproject.net)
There is still so much to do! If you are like me these figures hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat saddened and bewildered that the church, with all of its resources, are placing such little emphasis on the remaining task of 3.14 billion people made in the image of our God. This is a number that God expects us to actually do something about! What would happen if we each saw ourselves as God’s strategy to finish the task?
2 Corinthians 5:18-21 says “And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, 'Be reconciled to God!' God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.”
In this passage, we learn that in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself and that he has now entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to you and me! We are called ambassadors of Christ pleading on his behalf as a testimony to the nations.
In 1966 Billy Graham addressed a group of global Christ followers in Berlin and the words of his opening address still ring true, “Today, if the Christian Church could be aflame with enthusiasm for the Gospel of Christ, with the spirit of burning devotion to the Person of Christ, and with an overwhelming passion for the multitudes still outside Christ, we could change our world.”
This address was given before we had the use of social media, smartphones, fiber-optic internet and a widened access to global jets. So I ask you, brothers and sisters in Christ, how much more can we do now with what God has entrusted to us? Don’t forget the task at hand He is counting on you.
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