The great commission is no big secret amongst Christian groups. There are very few Christians who could not via memory recite the commission to you.
“Go out unto all the nations and proclaim the Gospel.” Pretty straight forward, right? It makes perfect sense the way it is written.
Yet, I know in my own heart this message is not clearly received. When reading the Gospels, I so often skim over this verse, not allowing it to truly impact my heart.
One of my classes this semester is called “Personal Evangelism.” I tell you what, it’s week two and it is already kicking my butt. Not because it is hard or even confusing, in fact it is simple and abundantly clear.
Scripture evidently tells us as believers that we have a great responsibility to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel.
The reason this simple command is difficult to me is due to my own hardness of heart toward the lost of this world.
Being perfectly honest and blunt, I do not truly care about the lost. In my hardness of heart I know myself to be saved and therefore am tempted to allow everyone else figure it out on their own.
This is clearly against what Christ has commanded me to do.
Two things have impressed on my heart these first weeks of my Evangelism class.
1. The weight and glory of the cross, and it’s meaning to those in Christ.
2. The two greatest commandments: to love The Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
First, the cross, I believe, can become a flippant symbol for the Christian faith. We see it on necklaces, hung on the walls of churches nation wide without ever really stopping to understand the great weight which comes from the cross.
The cross was by far the worst punishment in Jesus’ time – I dare even to say of all time. To die by crucifixion was a gruesome thing. To say we are “washed by the blood of Christ” is to recognize that as He hung from this tree, He bled Himself of life so that we may become one with Him in His death. What a grace.
Yet, through this gruesome torture, the worst pain He felt was not when He received the lashes beforehand, nor when they punctured His wrists and feet with coarse nails.
Rather, the moment of His most suffering, His most grievous state was when He exclaimed to His Heavenly Father “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 ESV). In that moment for the first time in Christ’s existence, He was separated from His Father. The grief and pain from that moment in time was enough to cause more agony than any pain this world inflicts.
I read this, and I can see what I do not have to feel. I will never again experience life apart from Christ, because I am saved by His blood. But those that are lost? Those who pass from this world without knowing the forgiveness in Christ? Will spend an eternity in the agony of being apart from God. The pain which was too much for Christ to bear, will be on the shoulders of those who die without knowing Him.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)
Second, it is clear here where Jesus wants us to focus our hearts. First and foremost on our God, but second on our neighbors. And what are we to do to both? Love them.
Not only love them – but love them well. To love God with all of our being, with all we have. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
In one of my textbooks, there is a glorious picture of the simplicity of loving your neighbor. There is an interview in which a Christian is faced with the question “what is the greatest moment of your life?” And he, as hopefully all of us in Christ would respond, replied, “the moment I accepted Christ as my savior.” The interviewer replied, “then it is safe to conclude that when we neglect to share the Gospel with those around us, we deny them the very joy we have found in Him.”
By neglecting to share the thing which brings us our hope, joy and comfort, we are disobeying the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I pray you not take these things as something for me trying to convict you or anyone else, rather instead to remind my heart and yours the precious joy and comfort we have found in Christ. I know my heart to be so callous to the lost in this world, and I am praying even as I write this for The Lord to change my heart in that matter.
He so showed His love for us that day on the cross. We who are in Christ know that to be true.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11 ESV)
Friends, as we go on through our days and lives let us seek to share this joy that we have found in our precious savior, Jesus. Let life in Christ be the very thing we exclaim the loudest and most frequent. Let us love our neighbor by offering the hope they will not find in this world. The hope that supersedes anything else that will ever be offered. The hope that is Jesus Christ.
– Kayla Godbold