The Great Commission, Great Commandment, and our Humanity

Super ChristianAfter hearing a sermon on the Great Commission this past Sunday, it reminded me of these quotes from two books I’m reading and reinforced that being a witness does not require us to be super Christians, with big capes like we have it all together. You ever feel like you don’t measure up to be an effective witness for Christ, loving God and neighbor as you should? Well neither did the first disciples. And they were with Jesus!

“Matthew concludes his gospel with the Great Commission. To his worshipping, yet doubting, disciples, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples” (vv. 18-19). The one who has all authority has chosen not to use it himself. The one who has all power has chosen to give it away. The one who has just conquered sin, death, and the grave has turned over the next stage of the kingdom to this group of fearful and doubting followers, who have demonstrated over and over again that they are more concerned about themselves than about Jesus, about their agendas than about the kingdom, about their reputations than about ‘the least of these,’ and about greatness than about servanthood. Yet it is to these men that Jesus gives the responsibility to make disciples. The gospel is entrusted to them. The mission of the church is given to them. The fate of the poor, the needy, and the oppressed is delegated to those followers who, even in the presence of the resurrected Jesus, continue to doubt. And that continues to be God’s plan. It is through the church that the kingdom grows and spreads over the earth.”  – Glenn Kreider, God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People throughout the Bible.

“This summons to love God and thus to keep these words (Luke 8:15; 1 Tim. 6:20; 1 John 3:24; 5:2-3). One who keeps these words is equipped to guard against idols. The first commandment is for ordinary Israelites and for ordinary disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciples we meet in the New Testament could be dull of understanding and slow of heart (Luke 24:25). In the Garden of Gethsemane they would not stay awake even one hour to watch with their Master (Matt. 26:40). Peter even denied him (Matt. 26:69-75). All of them had trouble accepting the report of Christ’s resurrection. But concerning these people, know their weaknesses, Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer to the Father: “They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept your Word.” (John 17:6). Weak, unbelieving, dozing and rebellious men were repeatedly restored because the words of God and of Christ had received a permanent place in their hearts. They stuck with their choice, even though they were often shaken back and forth by Satan in his sieve (Luke 22:31-32) were occasionally ensnared in the nets of idolatry.” – Jochem Douma, The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life. 

One might could argue that the permanent indwelling of the Spirit makes the difference. But do we really believe we are not unlike the disciples pre-Pentacost – quick to speak, slow to learn, doubting, fearful, slothful, rebellious, self-absorbed, concerned more about our own status than exalting Christ? Sure we’ll have moments of apparent selflessness and super strength and focus. But then there are those other times…

Of course I’m not suggesting, nor are these authors suggesting, that we revel in our weaknesses as an excuse. But let’s face it, they are us, no matter how big we think our cape is. These snippets portray the beauty of God’s love for his creatures and care for his mission. That should comfort us when we feel we don’t measure up. That’s why we must confess our sin and our weakness and our daily need. For in it we remember afresh that we need a Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s his strength working through our weakness. For as Paul reminds us, “it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13). The beauty is that he does not call us out alone but as members of the body of Christ.

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