Who is the Boss?
For much of my life, the Great Commission has struck fear in my heart… and not the fear of God. Fear of man has long instantly consumed me. Pastors quote it trying to get their congregations motivated for sharing the gospel – as though beating people over the head with a law could somehow truly inspire them to share the message of God’s grace.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
A few years ago, I took upon myself the task of memorizing the gospel of Matthew. I had a great big whopping revelation. The Great Commission, to the best of my memory, had never been quoted to me in context. An old and well-known rule was not being followed when the Great Commission was quoted to me by someone trying to convince me that I was not a proper Christian if I wasn’t following one of Jesus’ most important commands.
This perhaps is true enough. Without following this command, it could be wondered if I understand the gospel message correctly. And quoted as it is above, it would have to be wondered if those instructing me understood the Great Commission correctly – for they were sending their people out without power.
As I have taken upon myself to memorize great portions of the Bible (much of which I can fully retain only on a mild level), I have begun to notice a missing context to much of it. Often commands are quoted without context. This lays a law on listeners that is not in the original text.
I am in full agreement that all followers of Christ ought to go and make disciples of all nations, but I don’t think they should try it without a strong understanding of Jesus’ previous statement on which the “therefore” in the Great Commission is based. That statement reads as follows:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18
Without understanding who has authority in heaven and on earth, there is only one way to share the gospel; and that is with a strong fear of man. When we understand who has the authority, then neither you nor I ever has to be afraid or worry about whether we will be accepted or liked as we share the gospel. We can share and live from a place of strength and peace. When “all authority” is with Jesus, then talking about Jesus isn’t that hard. But if we think authority on earth is with the evil one, we will always be afraid to open our mouths to expand the kingdom of God.
Have I become fearless while sharing the gospel of Christ? Not yet, but in the last year I have made giant steps toward becoming so. Now there is at least a possibility that I will open my mouth to a complete stranger and share Christ. There is also the reality that on occasion, I go out two by two with those in my local church to share the gospel with anyone open and willing to listen to it on the streets of Manhattan. What good fun it is!
Today I want to encourage us that Jesus Christ is the one with authority on earth. Don’t be afraid. Don’t tremble. He has got your back. He can keep you in perfect peace. Remember who is boss, and live like the new person you actually are!by