After Easter–Now What? (Part 2)

James Hassell   -  

In this blog series, we’re talking about our responsibility as Christians to serve the risen, living Christ. Jesus made our chief responsibility quite clear just prior to his ascension. We usually refer to this main responsibility as The Great Commission, especially as it appears in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus also gave quite a similar commission in Acts 1:8. Over the next few blog entries, we’ll do a deeper dive into both texts.

A few words about responsibility are in order as we endeavor to understand The Great Commission with clarity. For instance, thinking about responsibility in relational terms can be immensely helpful for the believer who wants to live out The Great Commission. That is, responsibility is not simply a demand made upon us by a legalistic God. Neither is responsibility a nebulous goal that we’ll consider at some point in the future when life slows down a bit. Responsibility is that which tugs at our hearts as God relates to us through his divine activity. Responsibility is not saying, “I’ve got to do this.” It is also not saying, “I’ll ought to do this and will get around to it eventually.” Responsibility is saying, “God is working on me here! I WILL respond to what he’s doing!”

With this relational concept in mind, consider four characteristics of responsibility for the Christian as developed by the highly influential theologian, James Fowler.

  1. Fowler said, “Personal action is responsive action.” In other words, it is sometimes easy for us to detach ourselves from our responsibilities. We often take care of tasks out of guilt, people-pleasing, or because we think that we may earn some bonus points with God. But true responsibility has a personal, relational quality to it. The living, resurrected, graceful God has put his Spirit in us—not so that we may be robots—but that we may freely and positively relate to Him and to our neighbors in concrete, loving action.
  2. “Action occurs in accordance with the self’s interpretation of the power to which it reacts.” This means that our minds are to be engaged in discerning how God is at work around us. This discernment can lead to decisive and meaningful ministry in action.
  3. “Responsible actions involves accountability.” This phrase is self-explanatory! We are accountable for what we say and do before a holy God.
  4. “Accountability implies that there is a community in which responsible action takes place.” Remember that Jesus gave The Great Commission to the church, not to a few select individuals. We all share in the responsibility of not only obeying the imperatives of Christ but holding one another accountable for completing the tasks to which God has called us.

Now that we have some greater insights into Christian responsibility, we’ll dive into The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 next week!