After Easter–Now What? (Part 4)

James Hassell   -  

On these Mondays after Easter, we are discussing our Christian responsibility. Specifically, we’re deep-diving into two key biblical texts—Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 (traditionally referred to as The Great Commission).

You may recall from recent blog articles that, from a biblical and theological perspective, responsibility is personal. This means that our responses to different stimuli in life are bound neither to slavish duties nor to nebulous goals. We are to respond to real people in real ways as we relate to a real God.

On the one hand, responsibility is not to be relegated to doing only that which you “should” do. On the other hand, responsibility is not to be relegated to doing only that which you “can” do. Responsibility is acting according to what we “ought” to do, driven by the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. God is at work around us! So, let’s join that work!

But how? This is where The Great Commission becomes highly relevant for us. Jesus instructed believers to go and make disciples of all nations in the Great Commission. He also commanded us to baptize new disciples and teach them all we can about Jesus. We see in the Great Commission the very essence of practical, personal responsibility. Since the Spirit of Christ is drawing people to himself, we have the responsibility of participating in that work through creatively and joyfully making disciples.

In our last article, we talked more specifically about what it means to “Go.” You might recall that how we said that the word “go” has a certain motion to it when read in context. This means that wherever we go, and wherever we may find ourselves, we can respond to the Spirit’s calling on us to make disciples. Making disciples is a part of the believer’s everyday rhythm of life. Jesus commanded us not only to “go” and make disciples but to make “going” to all nations for disciple-making a basic part of everyday life.

But what does it mean to “make disciples of all nations?” In our American culture, when we speak of making something, it usually refers to building or processing raw materials into a consumable good. An assembly line may come to mind—a place where something is “made.” This is most assuredly not the idea that Jesus had in mind when he spoke of making disciples. We can no more coerce or mold someone into faith in Christ than we can turn others into dinosaurs. To make a disciple is not to make someone just like us or to put someone on a theological assembly line so we can manipulate them.

To make disciples, in the biblical sense, has to do with nurturing and caring for others. That is, making disciples is highly relational in nature. We can’t effectively make disciples simply by sharing the gospel with someone and then abandoning him/her. Making disciples therefore requires effort and often a lot of time. It is not a program to complete but a relationship to build. When Jesus spoke of making disciples, he was not thinking about an assembly line which cranks out bigger churches. He was thinking of dedicated believers loving other people into the Kingdom of God.

Consider also that Christ called us to make disciples “of all nations.” In the biblical Greek, the term “nations” refers to people of all language speaking groups, races, groupings, and tribes. In the Great Commission, Jesus absolutely demolishes the idea that Christianity is to be reserved for a certain group or type of people. The idea of missions is thus born here in the Great Commission. We are to get to as much of the world as we can with the gospel of Jesus, regardless of social boundaries that separate us in the eyes of the world. Jesus’ gospel is for everybody.

In the next article, let’s consider more of the Great Commission, especially what it means to “baptize” and “teach” new disciples of Jesus.