“Go make disciples!” was the emphatic directive of the speaker at a missions conference I attended not long ago.
The only trouble was, he never told us where to go, how to get there, or how long our stay should be.
If you’ve been a follower of Christ for any length of time, there’s a good chance that somewhere along the way, maybe in a sermon or in a book, you’ve heard the Great Commission (GC).
The GC is that all-important command of Christ given to his disciples that they go and proclaim the good news of the Gospel to all nations (Gk: panta ta ethnē). In their going, said Jesus, they would make disciples who make disciples, and in so doing, they would turn the world upside down (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim 2:2; Acts 17:6).
By God’s great wisdom, it’s been his plan all along to use the very wretches that he saves to communicate in word and deed the only message that saves to a world that is passing away (1 Cor. 1:21; 1 Cor. 7:31).
But, what are we to make of this command to “go”? What if I genuinely desire to walk in obedience to this Gospel command, but am entirely uncertain as to the final destination of my going?
It seems all too common to find Christians in America falling into one of two categories: 1) those who interpret the call to “go” as a call to international missions, or 2) those who interpret the call to “go” as being for those who go into international missions.
The result of this phenomenon is that unless an individual senses a calling into an over-seas context---selling all they have, going to language school, and landing somewhere in the 10/40 window---there is no “go.”
They determine that the GC isn’t for them, but for someone else.
Having been on three international missions trips to Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, and Colombia, I get the desire and great passion to see every tribe, tongue, and nation come to know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am in every way a supporter of taking the Gospel to the unreached people groups of the world.
It is the church’s mission---to make disciples of all nations.
But, what if I don’t sense a “calling” into over-seas ministry? What if my specific ministry passion is to see another Great Awakening occur in our modern, post-Christian, multi-cultural American culture---a culture in which the gods of prosperity, sexual immorality, and infanticide are exalted above the heavens?
For someone like me, is there no “go”?
Or, is my “go” less valuable than the “go” of the international missionary?
The last time I checked, North America was still part of the world’s nations. The last time I checked, there are some 280 million unreached people living here, making it the fourth largest mission field in the world. The last time I checked, a cultural Christianity has fooled masses of people into believing that they’re “good with God,” when in fact, they’re dead in their trespasses and sins (James 2:19; Eph. 2:1).
The thrust of today’s post, though, isn’t to debate the merits of international versus domestic missions. In fact, there is no “versus” to be found in that regard. There is only obedience versus disobedience to the command of Christ.
Instead, my desire is to bring some sense of clarity and encouragement where there’s too often an air of confusion.
Consider the following talking points in light of the GC:
1. The command to “go” is indeed for you.
2. The command to “go” for you may or may not involve an international component.
3. The command to “go” carries the meaning of “as you’re going, make disciples.”
4. The command to “go” immediately sends you to the people already in your life.
5. If you won’t “go” to the people around you, you won’t “go” to the nations.
John Piper famously wrote in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, that, “Missions exists because worship does not.”
Now, look around.
Look out into the American culture, or whatever culture God has sovereignly placed you in, and ask yourself if there is an abundance of worship among your spheres of influence. Unless you live in an anomaly, you have plenty of work to do.
Until God decisively sends you into another land, go to those people and those places where you do not see Christ being worshipped as King, and as you’re going, make disciples.
This is your mission until either He returns, or calls you home.
1) Where has God already called you to “go"?
2) What's keeping you from getting there?