And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)
Given what I say about my religion and sense of mission, how would I implement the Great Commission? We cannot run off into the world the way most religions have done that in the past. Nor is this quite the same world in which the First Century disciples of Jesus found themselves. That is, how we communicate the gospel message so as to make disciples and teach them what Jesus has commanded isn’t going to be exactly the same because their implementation matched a different world than ours.
Context is everything. The language we use comes within a cultural context, so that actions are part of the language. You can’t just isolate the act of speaking, as if it simply must be the same in every tongue and time and place in the universe. You have to translate it fully, not just some kind of mechanical word-for-word rendering. That’s just ink on paper; we need souls living that message as if Jesus were brought to life in every time and place.
First, we have to be in the right place; we have to plant roots in the ground where God covers us with His favor. And we stay there as long as it pleases Him. He’s the Creator who knows what should be growing where; it’s the same for whom is growing and bearing fruit.
Second, we each have to discover our own fruit. If we can discern with biochemistry how two identical trees in different ecosystems can offer varied nutrients, so we should understand that the parable of bearing fruit means we each play a small part in the broader spiritual nutrition of souls. No one of us is the sole influence in any other person’s redemption.
For myself, the biggest current mission is what you experience as my writing on the Internet. But I most certainly have been working here in the meat space of where I reside in Central Oklahoma. However, given the long legacy of pushy sales-pitch “evangelism” around these parts, I have to offer the gospel in a different means; I have to speak a different language into this context. So for now, I am plowing the ground, breaking up the hardened surface defense against a more vivid gospel message by simply living what I preach on this blog. I show the power of God’s revelation in terms of my shalom. They know it’s about Christian faith even if they don’t have a clue, and aren’t quite ready to hear the story behind it.
So for the time being, I’m waiting for something that will open their souls to the planting of seed. I’m plowing dry ground unless God makes it rain. Given the long season of drought, you can be sure that rain will come with terrifying storms. Gentle weather patterns can’t push past this massive high pressure dome of hot dry weather; it requires a very strong storm. Until the folks around me tribulate, they can’t hear the gospel message I bring. Some have suffered more than others, so everyone has their own unique level of readiness, and it takes time for God to move things in their lives until they are ready to receive. And even then, I know that there are few who will hear the divine call. Everybody is looking for something, but most people tend to think they’ve already got eternal stuff worked out. They have to be thrown into a place to question that. So in my faith and convictions, I know I’m in the right place, but the context is not complete.
Meanwhile, by the same faith, I also know that I am called to take this message elsewhere. I am gripped by a certainty that there are contexts that aren’t always tied to a physical place, contexts that are shaped by other factors of human existence. In those contexts people are already living in a condition that makes them question their certainties. Within those contexts is where my certainties shine brightest. I’ve done it before when I was serving in uniform with the US Army. The military service is a tribulational context wherever the military takes people.
There are other contexts that bear an inherent tribulation. Somewhere out there is another one for which I’m best fitted as missionary. Maybe it isn’t quite ready for me now, but I sense that it can’t be that far away in terms of time. In a prophetic sense, I believe that God is preparing me to take this gospel message to some folks who will, in turn, carry it wherever the winds of Heaven blow them on this earth. My evangelism in their lives will be just one more means of revelation that will prepare them for their own missionary calling.
This isn’t like the first few missions in the New Testament where the Apostles carried the message to people who weren’t moving around that much. I’ll do that, but I’ve been given a commission to discover other folks who are now, or ought to be, missionaries themselves. I’m supposed to be an influence in the souls of influential folks.
This is why I keep talking about some mission yet in front me on this path. There are some folks out there still chained by something that they don’t really belong to, but they need just one more key to open the lock. Or at least I’ll give them a key they need for some later final break into spiritual freedom. It doesn’t matter; I’m passing out keys to folks who are aware they need one. And they are people with missionary feet.
I have to be ready to make that message look like a key to them. This means a certain amount of flexibility, a sensitivity to how people see such things. It ranges all over the place. I might talk to one person about philosophy and epistemology, to another about cultural anthropology, to another about comparative civilization, to another about living in harmony with Creation, and with still yet others it will need to sound like just a slight variation on traditional mainstream Christian religion — whatever it takes.
What’s your mission? Let’s pray together about each other’s sense of where God is leading and how we each will carry out that Great Commission.