Friday, May 5, 2017

Fulfilling the Great Commission I

Today’s  church has more money than at any time in history, we have ways of communicating that were unthinkable even fifty years ago, and we have programs for helping alcoholics, drug addicts, divorced people, hospitalized people, those  in nursing homes,  divorced people or almost any problem we might encounter in this life.   We have huge revivals and evangelistic campaigns and mega churches to reach people with the gospel.  Despite all this, the percentage of those who call themselves Christians is shrinking.  Even those who claim to be Christians seem to have little understanding of what being a Christian actually means, and many are concerned about the problem.   Unfortunately, when something becomes an accepted practice, if problems develop, people tend to double down on it rather than backing away to look at why it is not working.  After all it worked in the past so why doesn’t it now? 

A plumber went into a home to fix a water leak under the sink.  What he discovered was that the leak had existed for years because the drain had never been properly connected, resulting in leak and the pipe corroding.   Each time the owners saw water dripping they wrapped it with electrical tape to stop the water from dripping.  Finally the old pipe collapsed and no amount of tape would stop the leaks.  There was so much tape on the pipes the plumber was forced to cut out far more than was really defective to get things in condition where he could make the necessary repairs.   What the people failed to understand was that the leak was only a symptom and stopping it did not fix the defective pipe. 

For far too long the church has been placing tape over leaks rather than addressing what causes the leaks, and it has reached a point where the tape is no longer hiding the problem.  As a result we see a troubling attitude across America and around the world. 

In order to understand what needs to be done, we need to start with an understanding of how things are supposed to be.  Let’s start with an understanding of Jesus’ command to his disciples.  Matthew 28:18-20 is known as the Great Commission.  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Because Jesus Christ is God, the creator and ruler of the universe, those who believe in him, his disciples are to reach out to all nations.  They are to cause them to become disciples (μαθητνω).  They were then to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in effect to establish them in basic doctrine as to who God is and his authority.  Finally, they were to teach (διδάσκω) the people to obey everything God commanded. 

Sadly, many of the problems in the modern church result from an improper understanding of the Great Commission.    We are to win People to Christ because he is Lord of Heaven and Earth.  Everyone on earth needs to recognize him as Lord.  Too many people are like those who insist Trump is “not my President.”    Whether they recognize his or no, he is still president, and Christ is still Lord.   We need to make sure people understand that, because until they do, they will never become his followers, supporting his actions, but will at best be just going along with what is happening to avoid problems.    

Until we understand who Christ is and what his authority is we will never succeed in fulfilling the job we have been given in the Great Commission.   Christ is not campaigning for office, he is acting as King.  Our job is to enlist workers , not to get votes.

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