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As we wrap up this series on understanding that we are all established in God’s Love, I want to spend some time on our last topic of sharing God’s love, our lives, as disciples should be about sharing our faith.
To do this, we will use one of the most famous passages of scripture in all the Bible.
If you have your Bible with you this morning, I invite you to turn to Matthew Chapter 28.
That's the last chapter in the book of Matthew.
We're going to begin in verse 16, and what we're about to study is known as the Great Commission.
According to Matthew, this is the last thing that Jesus says to his followers before he ascends into heaven.
So, to set the stage, let’s recap, Jesus was born, grew up, spent three years pouring his heart into a group of followers, he's died on the cross, he's risen from the grave, and he's made himself known to his followers.
Over the past 40 days, Jesus has made himself known as the risen one to his disciples.
In this passage, he's standing on a mountainside with those who have spent the last three years following him around, listening to his teachings, and watched him perform some pretty amazing things and before he ascends into heaven, he gives them these words...
There’s a few pieces of this I want to talk about and the first deals with what it happening…think about these words for a moment.
Some doubted…wow, can you imagine that?
Maybe you can…I think most of us doubt from time to time, and here we have in scripture, a moment when those who have seen Jesus feed thousands of people with just a little bit of foo.
These people have seen him heal the sick, raise the dead, make the blind see, and make the lame walk.
This is the resurrected Christ that they are with and yet, some doubted.
I mean, here we are on the mountainside with a man that has done so much.
And this moment was a big deal, right?
And some doubted…this tells me that it’s ok to doubt, as long as we don’t let out doubt rule in our lives.
There’s a funny thing about doubt…it’s much like fear, when it takes over our hearts, we cannot see our way around it.
Hear this clearly, it’s ok to doubt but it’s not ok to let our doubts rule our lives.
Like fear, if we let it, doubt will take over and we will never get to the most important piece of what Jesus says on that mountainside...
I mean, here we are at the the culmination of Jesus’ time on the earth.
He could talk about anything.
He could say anything, but what he does is he gives this last command before he ascends.
He says, "Go and make disciples of all nations.
Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and then teach them to obey everything that I have taught you.
And I'm going to be with you as you do this to the very end of the age."
Which begs the question, what is the subject of that command?
What do you think the most important word is? Go make disciples.
Baptize all nations.
What do you think the subject of this command is?
It's the word them.
Who is Jesus telling the disciples to go to?
Who are they supposed to make disciples out of?
Who are they supposed to baptize?
Who are they supposed to teach?
So, who are the “them”?
Honestly, it is anyone that might come through these doors for the very first time and not know what to expect.
It could be your neighbor, it could be your friend.
“Them” is anyone who is not currently in the category of us.
But hear me clearly, this is not to set up an “Us” vs. “Them” scenario.
To speak about “them” is to speak of anyone we encounter in our lives an that could be someone who is close to us or someone who we do not know around the world.
I also do not want to set us up for failure either.
So hear this clearly as well…Jesus is not talking about making everyone the same.
No, Jesus is talking about doing what he did…teaching, listening, and making.
None of this is about making anyone just like “us”.
Jesus is talking about our ultimate mission in this world and notice it is not about bringing people into a building, teaching them how we do things the way we do them.
He is not talking about making sure that everyone agrees on everything.
He is not even saying, that you should only seek out those who will fall into step beside us.
He says, GO INTO ALL THE WORLD.
If you have this idea that church is for church people, that's not biblical.
The church is not for church people because we ARE the church.
As the church, we are called to reach all people.
Notice too that I did not say that the church is a building that you come and sit at.
It's a movement that you choose to be part of to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus.
When you think about missions and missionary work, missions is across the world and missions is also across the street.
It's not either or.
Because God has called you and me to be Jesus followers.
God has called us to reach into the world.
Listen, there is no Plan B. We are the hope of the world.
We are God's plan to change the world one life at a time.
Notice too that Jesus did not say that it would be easy.
It’s a heavy, hard, and sometimes dangerous task that we have been called into.
We need to remember that the 11 men who surrounded Jesus that day on the mountainside, save for 1, all died in horrific ways.
One of those men met his death at the hands of those he was trying to reach by being run through with a spear.
One of those men on that mountain that day was crucified upside down after watching the rest of his family being murdered.
So if you are thinking that this is a heavy subject for today and right before Advent, you’re right, it is heavy.
But, here's the beautiful thing.
The Bible says, you and I, in the saving business, are not called to be salesmen.
You know what we're called to be? Witnesses.
You know what witnesses do?
They just talk about what they've seen and heard.
Missions is across the world and it's also across the street.
You and I are called to be missionaries.
To carry this message into ALL the world.
It could very well be that God in mercy, grace, truth, and quite frankly, in God’s sense of humor, that God has put you in a particular person’s life to be a witness and to give them an opportunity to respond to God’s amazing love, mercy, grace, and truth...Listen, we never know what God might do through a simple invitation.
Think about it this way…there is tremendous power in a seed.
When we plant them, we can count how many seeds are in going in the ground, or maybe a little more physical representation…if we want to plant an apple tree, we would cut open an apple and count the seeds that we can plant in the ground, but only God knows how many apples are in a single seed that we have planted.
It could be that you think you just planted one thing, but you planted an orchard and you don't even know it.
If a seed is like an invitation to get to know someone, we will probably have no idea what God will do with the invitation…the point is that we need to make the invitation and then leave it in God’s hands to to the work that needs to be done.
It’s about being faithful...it’s ok to doubt if we will ever make a difference the problem comes in when we let doubt and fear prevent us from achieving the goal that God has given us to accomplish.
God grant me the strength and willingness to listen to your Son’s words and when I see someone who needs to see and know you, help me to have the faith to introduce them to you and then help me to let it go so that the seeds can be sown.
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