Final instructions tend to emphasize what's most important. Even in directions for how to put something together, a series of summarized instructions are given in bullet points.
When parents leave their children with a babysitter, nanny, or grandparents, they relay what's seen as essential information. Things like, "Here's their jammies, dinner, diapers...." Or it might be, "No playing ball in the house, make sure they go to bed by...," well, you get the idea.
What were Jesus' final instructions to His followers? They're summed up in a word—"Go!" But somewhere along the way, this seems to be lost in translation or just ignored.
Jesus' final instructions repeated 5 times
The final instructions and teaching of Jesus to His followers are summarized in what is called the Great Commission. It's found in each of the four gospels and in Acts. It's a mandate for action throughout the world for the benefit of all people. This requires the church to go!
Here are five places the Great Commission is found and a brief summary of its content—
- Matt 28:19-20– Go, make disciples... teaching them what Jesus commanded
- Mark 16:15– Go into all the world... proclaiming the gospel to all people
- Luke 24:45-49–Proclaim repentance and forgiveness (the gospel) to all nations
- John 20:21-21– Jesus sends the apostles as He was sent by the Father
- Acts 1:4-8– Receive power to be the Lord's witnesses to all the world
Three to Go!
These three young were sent off from their YWAM base family in Jacksonville, FL for a two-year mission in a small province of Indonesia. It was great to see their excitement and commitment, which was affirmed by those gathered to send them off.
I had the privilege of being a small part of equipping them for their mission. They learned and served together for two years, and were challenged by their base director and one of their teachers to go. And so, they did.
Never intended to be optional
A cursory reading of Acts reveals this mission to go was central to the church's existence and growth. It was understood to be an essential element, not an optional one. But somewhere along the way things changed.
Initially, the church did not venture out of Jerusalem. What changed that? Persecution. A great persecution broke out after the fiery Stephen was martyred (Acts 8:1). Then the church went out as the Lord intended.
This mission is seen throughout the Book of Acts with the first intentional sending out of missionaries recorded in Acts 13:1-3.
How did "Go" become optional?
Reading the letters to the seven churches in Revelation (Rev 2:1-3:22) we see a change. What happened? I see two general trends also present today—complacency and compromise.
Compromise can come in many ways, but syncretism and tolerance are common. Things get included or excluded with a detrimental effect. How do you deal with compromise? The truth of God's Word is most effective in preventing and correcting compromise.
Complacency is harder to change.
How does it settle in? First, we get comfortable. It's hard to be comfortable when persecuted. Comfort leads to an unconcerned attitude. Unconcerned is a synonym for complacent, and unconcerned quickly changes to unengaged.
How does "Go" become essential for you?
3 things to jump-start you into engagement—
- Awareness– you need to become aware of the need throughout the world. How? Learn about the state of the unreached and unengaged around the world. Learn through research in books, websites, and people interested in world missions. [see list of resources below]
- Acceptance– understand the need, and become willing and committed to be engaged. As you learn, contact cross-cultural missionaries and mission agencies. They'll be glad to share their passion for the nations of the world and the mission to Go!
- Action– move forward by faith to support, and send or be sent. Get involved with missions at a local level, be ready to go on a short-term mission, and engage people of other cultures with the gospel where you live.
Where to start?
Here are resources to get you started and engaged—
- If you're here in Jacksonville, FL–http://www.ywamjax.org | Here's YWAM's main site– http://www.ywam.org
- Another Jacksonville-based missions organization– Here2There
- The US Center for World Missions – http://www.uscwm.org/
- The Joshua Project– http://joshuaproject.net/
- Missions Catalyst news updates– http://missionscatalyst.net/
- Mission Frontiers online magazine– http://www.missionfrontiers.org/
- Perspectives mission course– http://www.perspectives.org/
- William Carey Library (books)– https://missionbooks.org/