“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Getting Serious About the Great Commission
(Please read Matthew 28:19-20)
Many of us have heard this passage from the pulpit time after time, but usually it was part of the invitation for sinners to accept Christ. Somehow we have often seemed to apply these outreach passages much more narrowly than they were intended. If recitation of such scriptures helps move members of local, church-going families to obey the Lord, fine. But doesn’t the Lord expect our mission to be much broader than that?
Sometimes we forget that the gospel was brought to America by brave missionaries who came across the sea. What if they and the European congregations which supported them had considered work in America too far away and too risky? Like so many of us, they could have used the excuse that there were plenty of needs in their own communities that should be met before (read “instead of”) supporting overseas work.
It’s true that the church is a benevolent institution and it is good to be able to provide food, clothing and other needs to people in our own community. But the church is also, and chiefly, an evangelistic institution. Other activities, no matter how commendable, are necessarily subordinate to this central mission. We can and should do good things in our communities, but we must be involved in telling the good news of Jesus Christ in places where it has rarely or never been heard.
Many congregations have found that when they become really involved in supporting missionary efforts their members’ interest and participation in other activities of the church have increased as well.
Remember, it’s the “Great Commission.” We cannot disregard it.