Matthew 28:18-20… 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The great commission is only the framework of the mission. It is an instruction to build up the body of Christ in the world. It says to make disciples and to teach them to follow the ways of Christ, but this is not in and of itself the mission. It is like saying, find and assemble all the parts of a car and make sure it runs, but it says nothing of the destination. I believe the destination, if it is to be encapsulated in a few verses would be better revealed by …
Matthew 22:37-40…37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (NIV).
and by… Luke 4:17-21
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (NIV).
These indicate that the mission of our savior was an active engagement of the world, not in conflict but as it should be for all – an engagement of love. Every disciple is called to be part Christ’s work in the world, to be conduits or vessels of God’s love, to be a living expressions of compassion in all it’s facets. God’s love is seen in works of charity, in healing, in teaching and revealing. It defines how we are meant to relate, one to another and ultimately to God. We don’t often do it well, but we strive always to love better and more fully.
John 14:2 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (NIV).
Looking back over time, at the church that Christ fostered, I see that greater things have been accomplished. The church fostered the first systems of organized health care, hospitals, nursing programs and public health services. A trip to the hospital today owes a debt to the Lord. The church also expanded the scope and practice of education and scholarship. The church founded programs to feed the hungry, house the homeless, provide comfort and counsel to those in need. The church has brought hope to the dying and a sacred element to make our unions holy. The church has united communities and provided solace in times of trauma and tragedy. The church seeks out human suffering that it may bring the light and life of God to bear upon it. And yes, it has been abused, it has been the victim of humanity – that is not what God does – it is how some have chosen to use what God created. The question is not if the church is good, because when used as intended, it is. The question is can we be entrusted with the love of God, trusted to be the church?
In the Lord’s hand’s the Church is integral to every community, and has been historically significant in human social development. I am saddened by those who find no purpose in faith for they do not consider all that God has done for them. The mission of God to to world, as given to the disciples of Christ, is a greater calling than many can conceive, believe or see. But it’s there.