The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) states the purpose of the church. It involves going in order to make disciples, whom we are to baptize and teach. The Great Commission isn’t a stay-at-home project. We won’t catch fish unless we go to the water, and it doesn’t do any good to catch them if we just throw them back in. We need to go, and we need to make disciples.
Eager to share
Every Christian should be “ready to give an answer.” Being ready implies not just having an answer, but being on alert to actually give it. When we believe the gospel, we become eager to do what Jesus Christ wants us to do. Faith make us eager to look for opportunities, even create opportunities, because we want to give this answer that God has given us.
We do not share the gospel to chalk up points or get an obligation out of the way. We share the gospel because Christ, who died and rose again, lives in us. Just as Christ did not come to be served, but to serve, so the church cannot rightly be his body in the world by keeping its faith to itself.
The church exists not for its own sake, but for the sake of the world, just as Jesus came not to do his own will, but the will of the Father who sent him. Christian faith changes how we interact with the world. As Christians, we are still part of the world around us, but we are now, since Christ lives in us, part of the world in an entirely new way—a way that makes a positive impact in the name of our God who loves the world so much that he sent his Son for its salvation.
People need to know that God loves them, that their lives have meaning and purpose, that there is hope even when physical life seems pointless. God has given us good news for them, and the Holy Spirit in us makes us eager to give it to them.
They may not be eager to hear it, to be sure. Many people think they are doing just fine without God. But eventually the things they trust in—money, health, friends, intelligence, etc.—will disappoint them, and they will be ready to hear about a hope that is secure. That’s when we need to be ready, and in order to be ready, we need to be alert, and in order to be alert, we need to be eager and looking for opportunities.
It is deeply satisfying to be used by God to help someone else. Evangelism gives us a tremendous sense of significance, because we are taking part in eternal work, sharing by grace in the work of God himself, his work of redeeming from sin and saving from death our fellow human beings.
Each of us needs other people. None of us are self-sufficient, though we may think we are. God spreads his gifts around so we have to work together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). God wants his people to gather for regular fellowship, worship, discipleship and ministry. That’s why evangelism is only the first step in the Great Commission. Infant believers need a family to teach, encourage, protect and help them.
“Independent Christians” who avoid worship meetings rarely share the gospel and rarely live out the biblical commands to love, encourage and help one another. They live as though they are self-sufficient, and they tend to avoid any public acknowledgement that they trust in Jesus Christ. We cannot be ready to express the hope that lies within us when we routinely avoid opportunities to do so. We can hardly “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) by avoiding fellowship. No Christian can say to other Christians, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
Different people are differently gifted. Some think that evangelism is the main thing; others think that discipleship is the priority; and still others think that fellowship is all that’s needed for a healthy church. Some focus on music, some on youths, some on grace, and some on guidance. Some are physically unable to leave their homes, and prayer is their labor of love.
All such people need to learn to work together. Being together is a learning experience in itself—we learn to love not by being surrounded by people easy to love, but by sometimes being with people who are hard to love—people who are different from us. God puts us together for our own good, and we do his work better when we work together.
The church grows “as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16). Have you found a meaningful way to support the Great Commission? If not, ask God to help you. It’s something worth praying about.