As we read the gospels it becomes readily apparent that the disciples of Jesus must have lead interesting lives. Their time with Jesus was punctuated by memorable events that they would never forget. Probably no event was more memorable than the day they stood with Jesus on a mountain and he gave them what we now call the Great Commission.
Every day at this stage of their relationship with Jesus must have been electrifying because they now knew that he had conquered death itself and they consequently would have listened to his every word with complete attention. What Jesus said to them when he gave them the Great Commission would shake their world to the point where nothing would ever be the same again.
Jesus begins by making the incredible claim that ‘all authority is given to me.’ Then he commanded that they make ‘disciples of all nations.’ This was a stunning request. They were a small group of ordinary people already persecuted by the authorities, with no money, infrastructure or influence. Jesus’ disciples were relatively uneducated, so the thought of going throughout the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus was a truly frightening prospect.
Jesus didn’t give them any options, this wasn’t a request, it was a command. After three years of being with him and seeing all that he had done there was a real sense in which they couldn’t help but continue to follow him because of what they knew about him already.
After the resurrection and the many appearances Jesus made to them, the disciples were convinced that he was alive. This conviction convinced them to the point of being willing to lay down their lives for this truth. They were so convinced because they had been with, and had seen Jesus.
The logic of mission is based on who Jesus is and what he has done. This conviction that Jesus was the only hope for the world drove the first disciples on in their mission. This small group of people, with the words of the Great Commission ringing in their ears, turned the world upside down. They travelled throughout the ancient world in difficult circumstances, many being martyred in the process. By their endeavours they ensured that the gospel of Jesus spread throughout the entire Roman Empire.
The same challenges speak to us today. I have been asked the question; ‘why should I be involved in supporting our church in evangelism?’
My answer to this question is this; ‘It depends on what you believe about Jesus. If you don’t absolutely believe that he is the Son of God and the saviour of the world, then evangelism is pointless. If you do believe all of that, then mission is something that you must commit yourself to.’
The follow on question then comes, ‘but how do we get a passion for mission?’ There is only one way, get a passion for Jesus! As we become more and more convinced that he is all that he claims to be – Lord of all, King of kings and the only hope that this world has. If that belief soaks into every part of your life then you will be unable to not be committed to mission.
There is a real sense in which the real question is not ‘do you have a passion for mission?’ but rather ‘do you really believe all that Jesus said and did?’ If the answer is really yes, then you will have a passion for mission, a passion to let others know what you know, to give them an opportunity to believe what you believe and to live their lives in that knowledge and understanding as well.
If this article has raised questions for you, then please talk to Steve or Paul.