The Great Commission is one of the first verses I really came to know. When you attend a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, well--you just kind of learn that one, you know?! But, what I did not understand until the other day was that even though I knew the verse, I didn't know the verse.
During week one of my class the professor asked us to rewrite the Great Commission in 12 words or less. No easy feat. How do you rewrite something that the God of the universe has spoke? So, I did my best. I definitely wanted to make sure the words "preach the Gospel" were included in the 12 words. Because, well, they had to be, right?! I mean, that was the entire premise of the Great Commission--to preach the Gospel. Right?!
Fast forward to week five of the class. I have read Becoming a Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels and I have just finished reading The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman. Both were really great books, but there was something about Coleman's that grabbed me. Which was good because it was the book that I was supposed to write my final paper on.
The last paper. The only paper that stood between me and a seven week break paper. I decided I wasn't going to write it. I needed a break. My classes had been doubled for five weeks and during those already difficult five weeks--I found out my dad has prostate cancer. Yep. I needed a break. But, that stubborn, OCD behavior just wouldn't let me rest until I had completed what I started. Well, at least that is what I thought it was. So, I sat down to write that last stinkin paper!
I wrote the book review part and started to answer the questions and the first one hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn't a hard question--as a matter of fact, I thought it was a bit too simple to even be a question on the final paper. The question--"Why is making disciples so essential to the completion of the Great Commission?" Ummm...hello! Obvious, right?! Yes. One would think so, but as I got ready to answer it I knew there was something more. Something I was missing. I thought about Coleman's book and looked up Matthew 28:19-20 and there it was:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...."
I could feel the tears sting my eyes as I heard God's voice "You have missed the mark my beloved." My mind ran through week one in my head again and it suddenly dawned on me as the scales began to hit the computer keyboard--the Great Commission has never been about "preaching the Gospel", but it has always been about building relationships. The Great Commission is Jesus saying "Teach others about me by loving them the way I have loved you. Teach them to follow Me and obey Me and to carry on the Father's work as I have done. Then, send them out to do the same."
I cried hard that day. I cried for the time I had wasted by being afraid to "preach" at people. I cried because of how intimate God is with me and how gentle and loving He is when He scolds me. I cried because I never wanted to forget this realization. I don't want to be the man James speaks of who looks in the mirror and forgets his face. I want to remember this revelation--and the way it made me feel. I want to be forever changed because of it.
Lord, how can I thank You for pulling the scales off of my eyes, except to never allow them to form again. Thank You, Lord. Your grace, Your mercy, Your gentleness, Your intimacy overwhelms me to the point of tears. Continue to open my eyes to opportunities to build relationships with non-believers and make me bold in proclaiming Your name to all. Show me how to make disciples based on Jesus' example alone. No gimmicks. No strategic outreaches. Nothing but Jesus and His example. In Your Holy Name I pray...Amen!
Oh...and Lord.....thank You for prompting me to write that paper. When I didn't 'feel' like writing it I should have known You were getting ready to teach me something great! You always use the stuff I am least excited about:)