Matthew 28:18-20 (commonly referred to as the Great Commission), identifies three distinct dimensions of Christ's mission. It answers the question --
What is your purpose? A disciple-making purpose
Jesus did not say go and make converts, Christians, church members or mere believers. A closer look at the Scriptures reveals why. In the entire New Testament, convert is found three times. Christian is found three times (interestingly Jesus never used the word). Member is found eleven times and believer is found twenty-one times. In contrast to these words, disciple is found 296 times in the New Testament. To Jesus, success is not about size, success is succession. Jesus did not say, "Draw a crowd and hold more services" (we all wish it was that easy). Jesus knew that drawing a crowd and making disciples is not the same thing. Jesus wants us to make disciples who can make disciples.
What is your purpose? An every-where purpose
In Matthew 28, Jesus said, "Make disciples of all nations." Our mission is so big, so everywhere, a few paid professionals are not enough to get the job done. Not only do we have a shared mission, we have a shared identity. We are all informal missionaries who are determined to go wherever Jesus sends us. Our daughter is an international worker in Africa. If anyone asked her, "How did you end up living in Africa?" Her short answer would be, "God sent me."
But if someone asked us how we ended up living in our city would we give the same answer? Followers of Jesus are informal missionaries who realize that Jesus has providentially arranged their lives so that they have direct access to the people he's trying to reach. If we live in a specific neighborhood or work in a certain company, we're not there by accident. Jesus has providentially put us there to have direct access to those neighbors and employees. My friends, we live our entire lives in the middle of our Lord's harvest field. Jesus has prepared us for the people we routinely contact every day. We have an everywhere mission.
What is your purpose? A Jesus-led purpose
In a Jesus-led mission spiritual results are not based on human effort or worldly principles. They are based on being conscious of Christ's presence, attentive to his voice, and responsive to his initiatives. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. . .and I am with you always." Jesus was in effect saying, "This is my church and my mission. I’m always in charge and always present." Our job is to be conscious of his presence, attentive to his voice, and responsive to his initiatives.
The book of Acts illustrates this dynamic principle
In Acts 8, Phillip found an Ethiopian Treasurer in the desert because he was conscious of Christ's presence, attentive to his voice and responsive to his initiative.
In Acts 9, because Ananias was conscious, attentive and responsive, he found Saul of Tarsus praying. Jesus had converted the arch-enemy of the early church to be an Apostle for the Gentile nations.
In Acts 10, Peter heard a voice from heaven say, "Simon, three men are looking for you." He responded to Christ's leading and brought the good news of the gospel to Cornelius and his household.
All it takes in a Jesus-led mission is for the members of Christ's body to be conscious of his presence, attentive to his voice and responsive to his initiatives. You see, the ministry of Jesus is what He does through us, not what we do for Him. Let's go back to the basic fundamentals of making disciples and trusting Christ's leading. He knows what he's doing!
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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Discussion questions for your Sunday School class or small group:
1. How can you develop more of a disciple-making purpose?
2. What difference does it make in your when you realize you were sent by God to your current city/job?
3. How can you tell when your purpose is based on human effort and worldly principles?
4. What mission do you sense Jesus is leading you toward?
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