Our Mission Dossier
It is easy to be complacent today and take the easy road. Christians are like water running downhill, making ruts in the easiest places to flow.
I never fully realized this in my students until I had a conversation recently where the underlying desire came into focus. The four of us were sitting around talking about an upcoming event that was focused on inviting friends to join in with the group in a night of fun. We began to discuss different possibilities when the idea of heading to a local trampoline park came up. Everyone was excited about the idea until someone mentioned that we would not be able to vet the students who would attend to make sure there would not be drugs, alcohol, inappropriate clothing, swearing, weapons, or anything else unsavory.
Here we were talking about an outreach event, meant to engage with friends who will not come to church at any other time, and we were worried about having bad influences show up. That began a discussion about who Jesus would exclude from His outreach night and has continued with a series on our Christian “Mission Dossier;” the Great Commission.
The Great Commission
Now, like you, I had heard this passage of scripture dozens of time and almost treated it with a little bit of nonchalance, but the process for my students is causing them to think more missionally. The idea of a commission is a directive given to a group of people to be accomplished together. What a great reminder. Sadly, many Christians, myself included, have not accepted the mission Jesus has given. Whether through blatant disregard, numbing fear, or mistaken belief that He wasn’t talking to them, missional focus in the church today is waning. What we have discussed has opened my eyes to the areas I am shirking my responsibilities, and going AWOL on the mission I have been given. So take a second and see if this does not speak to your student body, or even to you.
The Matthew 18-20 passage is preceded by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the appearance to the Marys and then comes to a mountain conversation with the disciples who are fresh out of hiding. The last communication Jesus has with His disciples before ascending is written down for us, so you know whatever He says next is of utmost importance. Jesus begins by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” As He looks at His disciples, He sees a group of scared men, worn out from three days of worry and deep sorrow, many of whom are worshiping Him and yet still doubting He is really there. They had fallen into a state of inaction; catatonic and ineffective. So His words are meant not only as a reminder but also as a pull towards the reality of who is speaking and what said speaker has just come through.
Don’t we all need this sometimes? This God/Man has succeeded in His mission on earth, no longer in the position of a servant but instead, living out Philippians 2:8-10, He has been exalted to the highest place and given a powerful name above all others. And one of the keys here is the word “given,” which means He earned it, He didn’t take it for Himself but instead was seen fit to control that authority. Jesus is giving the “why” before the “what.” The receiver of all authority is about to give a directive; I think we should probably listen.
Get active! Get moving! What are you doing sitting around? Jesus says “therefore,” which means “because of my previous statement.” His resume backs up His command. And then the word “go.” The Greek here means to depart, walk, or go upon your way, and is very much a word of action. So the question we have to ask is: Am I active in my faith? Too many believers wait for the voice of the Lord in their ear or a magic 8-ball message in the bottom of their coffee cup to start living missionally, but our mission is not always given through divine means. Our mission field is wherever we live, work, play or learn. Therefore, you do not have to cross an ocean to be a missionary; you just have to cross the room. You do not need a light bulb moment to be a light. Our students have the power to change everything they touch, we just need to wake them up and release it.
[bctt tweet=”You do not have to cross an ocean to be a missionary; you just have to cross the room. ” username=”ys_scoop”]
“Making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey…”
Making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey Jesus’ commands are the next three directives. A disciple is a student or pupil according to the Greek here in Matthew. So what do good students do? Study, experiment, ask questions, learn, take notes, etc. If we are supposed to help others become good students, then we also need to be good students of Jesus. No one wants advice on how to get an “A” from a “C-” student, nor can a low-grade student successfully reproduce what they are not themselves.
Baptism then is the “outward expression of an inward reality” (Watchman Nee) when someone is truly serious about their “scholarship” of the faith. Baptism takes belief from head knowledge to heart reality. And finally, those students-turned-believers need to be trained to engage in the same the process they came through. Here you become the teacher and help them grow from your example. John C. Maxwell once said, “A wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others’ mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from others’ successes” (Leadership Gold). Thus are the actions of one teaching others to obey the commands of Jesus. We can easily spout off a few, but all 236 in the gospel accounts? Not to mention the hundreds more in rest of the New Testament. Would it not be better to share the commands of Jesus and discuss how we have traversed our faith as we have sought to follow Him? As we look at this, we are reminded that all of this is to be done in the context of relationship and through the timetable of a longer process.
“And I am with you…”
Jesus wraps up His command to His disciples with a promise that completely changes the tenor of the entire directive. He pledges to never leave His disciple’s side as they tackle this mission. That is like Captain America telling you to go take out Hydra and then telling you that he will be infusing you with his super soldier serum and also coming along as your partner. It is fantastically empowering. The Almighty One, with all authority, is sending you on a mission but is also going with you as “back up.”
Since beginning these discussions, we have resolved to make our gathering times a chance to refuel, refocus and grow together before scattering again at the end of the night. And on the last bulkhead of our student hallway, we hung a simple sign: “You are now entering the mission field” to remind students that everywhere they go they are under the directive of the Great Commission. As they leave, some just look at it, others jump up and slap it, but all are reminded of their calling in the world, that no one is outside of their mission parameters, and that Jesus seeks the weakest and the lost, the hurting and the broken, the sick and the violent. As the continuers of His work on earth, we must decide whether or not we will get active and do His work. This is our mission, should you choose to accept it.
SCOTT OSBORNE is the Student Ministries Pastor at Portage Free Methodist Church in Portage, MI. He lives with his wonderful wife and three sons and enjoys anything that gets him in the woods. He has been serving in ministry since college and is passionate about relationally engaging teens with the story of Jesus and walking with them in their journeys. You can follow him at his blog: THOUGHTSFROMAROLLYCHAIR.WORDPRESS.COM.
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