The Great Commission: “As You Are Going”

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

– Matthew 28:19, 20

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I couldn’t help but notice recently how many evangelists, writers, and bloggers as well, continue to use the Great Commission to remind us that someone, somewhere should answer the call to foreign missions. “Go, therefore! That’s what He said,” they say. Yes, that’s true. Unfortunately, I still, even after all these years, see folks resist the idea of being called to ‘missionary work.’

I realize what I’m about to say may be nothing new to many of you. Yet there are obviously many who still refrain from sharing the gospel using the excuse that they are ‘laymen,’ or ‘that’s not my job.’ Well, yes brother or sister, it is.

Now I grew up in the SBC – in the Bible Belt – and as long as I can remember, the prevailing attitude among the many congregations I’ve observed is basically this: Missions are for those called to foreign lands, and here at home, it’s the preacher’s job to share the gospel and bring folks into the church. Now that may not be the attitude where you live, but it still exist brethren, trust me!

I’m convinced that, in some respect, that attitude has as its foundation a misunderstanding of the command of the Great Commission itself.

Every believer has been called to missions, to make disciples, to teach others about Christ Jesus. Every one of us! I can’t count the number of times when I’ve heard members of a church say “I’m not the pastor” or “I’m no missionary.” Well beloved, that’s not really the issue is it? It doesn’t really matter if you’re an engineer or Krispy Kreme’s top doughnut maker, we are all called to missions!

The main verb in the passage is to “make disciples”, not “Go”. Teach others about Christ, and help those in Christ to grow by explaining the Word to them. And while I’m on my little soapbox, the word translated ‘go’ in no way implies a foreign land! The word means ‘having gone’ or better yet ‘as you are going’. It is a present participle my friends. ‘Going’ is not to be understood as headed off to a foreign land, but literally, as you are going about your daily business, your daily life, that world of influence where you meet people on a daily basis.

Jesus was telling His disciples to start in Jerusalem, and as you are going about daily life, as you meet with folks, in your sphere of influence, tell them!

No one says you have to go door-to-door talking to complete strangers after work. But if you enjoy that, and feel called, by all means, have at it! My point is that you are standing and moving in the fields ‘ripe for harvest’ every day.

However, and this is important. If you think that only the pastor and evangelists in the world are responsible for sharing the gospel, you are mistaken! Your pastor’s calling is not to do yours!

- Joel