This past week we have been reminded of what Jesus did the last week of His earthly life. Sunday was a great day as we celebrated the Risen Christ. As we look back on these events, what difference do these events make in our lives both individually and also as a church? During the days following the resurrection, it is recorded in Matthew that Jesus met with his disciples and gave them specific instructions. I believe that these instructions are applicable to our lives, and the instructions to the disciples are for us as well. This is the great commission. These are our instructions on how we should carry on the message of Christ. Yes, this is telling us that we have to “Be the Message”.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
In his book, The Great Omission, Dallas Willard said, “The greatest issue facing the world today is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as Christians will become disciples, students, apprentices, practitioners of Jesus Christ, learning from Him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence”. Willard also says that a great misconception of the church today is that “we can be Christians forever and never become disciples”. The singular command of the Great Commission is to “make disciples”. What a tragedy it would be for us to stop with conversion and never become a disciple of Christ.
There are three words in this passage that give us instruction on the how to of disciple making. First, there is the command to Go. This implies that we are to make disciples as we go. We can’t just build a church and wait and expect people to come. Our growth as a church is dependent on all of us being involved in outreach. We must be looking for opportunities to share with the people that are in our neighborhood and those we come in contact with. If we are a follower of Christ, then we are commanded to share Christ with others. Second, we encourage new Christians to follow Christ in Baptism. Disciple-makers direct people to faith in Christ by their words and relationships. Third is to Teach -teaching involves equipping people to live, walk, think, and act like Jesus. Teaching involves both the small groups as well as large groups such as our Bible study classes. Becoming a disciple is a lifelong process that is never fully achieved.
As we follow Christ as a church, we need you. We need you to be involved in reaching out and bringing others to Christ and to church. God has not placed this church on this hill in this neighborhood to be a closed group. We need you to be involved with us as we reach this community. I am excited about what I see happening at Eastern Hills. I hope that you are thinking about who you can invite to church this coming Sunday. Other than our regular church events, we have several events that we can invite our friends and neighbors to. First on Sunday, April 30th, we will have our Church Picnic under the Pines. Our annual Vacation Bible School will be June 4th through the 8th from 5:30-8:30 PM.
See you Sunday!