[This essay is relatively long and more personal compared to my other posts. To read the less personal and abridged (shortened) version, click here. I do hope if you have the time, you would read the full version here because it is so personal to me and you might be able to relate to it more. Thank you.]
“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.’ ”
Most, if not all, Christians know the preceding verses as The Great Commission. It is the charge given by Christ to all His disciples to make disciples of all people of all the different people groups.
Almost three decades ago, when I first heard the gospel when I was in grade school, it didn’t really make an impression on me. For me and my cousins, it was just one of the commands that we were expected to obey because we were Christians. My cousins and I would ride our bikes and visit the kids in the squatters’ area and we would share the gospel to them. The gospel that I heard then was accurate but somehow during that time, I failed to comprehend the immensity of His grace and love for me. Sharing the gospel and missions, then, was just something that good Christian kids do. To be really honest, it was more like a chore to me.
Later on, I started living my own life again where God and Jesus was just a category in my life. During my college days, God caught up with me again and I finally put my faith in Christ alone. It was the most joyous moment in my life. This was when I started having the desire to share the gospel to other people. And later on I did. I was able to share the gospel to a few of my friends and they put their trust in Christ.
However, something happened to me that I guess happens to a lot of Christians. I started believing that the gospel was only for those who didn’t know Christ yet. I started focusing on maturity, growth and character. For me, the gospel was something I had to “master” because I had to share it to others as well. The gospel just became a category in my Christian walk. And with this, The Great Commission again became an obligation, a chore. And chores are stuff that I didn’t like to do. Yes, I admit it. I sort of started “hating” sharing the gospel. I don’t know if many people will admit it but I guess there are many who share the same sentiment.
Something even worse happened. You see, everyone around me was into The Great Commission. I strongly believed I had to too. It was the “in” thing for those who were committed and supposedly mature. So aside from being The Great Obligation and The Great Chore, it became The Great Peer Pressure to me. It’s not that I had zero love for the lost as my motive but the pure motives became adulterated with the much greater motive of keeping up with others in church. I’m sure a lot of other people right now are in the same situation and don’t even realize it.
For years, it has been a struggle trying to keep my motives pure. I talked about the right motives, preached about the right motives, taught about the right motives. But all the while, I was also preaching to myself. I was well aware of what was lacking in me and I was sure determined to try with all my heart to love the lost. But truth be told, a lot of times, motives were often mixed. I couldn’t muster enough goodness and love to have only the right motives.
But thank God something happened to me. I underwent a gospel revolution. God brought me back face-to-face with what Christ did for me. And this is what this whole blog is all about: my journey rediscovering the grace of God, the gospel, Jesus Christ and discovering more of His grace. I discovered that the gospel is central to my everyday Christian life. [Please read all my other posts if you want to understand what I’m talking about.]
This gospel revolution gave me a new insight into The Great Commission. I used to read verses like the one below and just skimmed over it. When we read the verse below, what usually captures our attention is the command, “…I am sending you.”
“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
But gradually by God’s grace, I’ve started to see it in a new light. What strikes me now is the phrase, “As the Father has sent me,…”. As the Father sent Jesus? How did the Father send Jesus? Why did the Father send Jesus?
This started me thinking about the eternal love of God, our sinfulness, His wrath that we deserve but which He was unwilling to lash out on us, the solution to satisfy His love and His justice – Jesus Christ.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
When I saw Jesus Christ, the Son of God, leaving all His glory and bliss in heaven and humbling Himself to save us, things started to change. When I realized that we didn’t even ask for help, that it was He Who took the initiative, something stirred within me. When I understood that when we were still sinners, Christ was crucified and died for us, it broke my heart. When I am reminded that all of His perfect righteousness was credited to us unworthy and wretched sinners and that the Father adopted us as sons, my heart is filled with so much joy.
When I fix my eyes on His tremendous love for me rather than on my ability to obey His command, my heart is transformed and a love for Him grows. “As the Father sent Jesus”…I can just imagine Jesus volunteering, “Father, send Me! Send Me!” As I focus on this truth, such gratitude fills my heart. I know that I cannot ever repay what He did for me but the joy, the gratitude, the love I have because of His love for me makes me shout, “Lord, command me. Send me. I volunteer! I will gladly do it. I can’t help but talk about Your goodness, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace.”
Yet I know that even with all my own commitment and my own faithfulness, I will not be able to live up to this. It is only by His grace, His faith, His commitment, His Spirit, His power that I will be able to live up to this.
The key is not on focusing on the command. The key is not about us mustering a love for the lost. The focus is on how much God loves us and everyone else. As we focus on His love, we grow in our love for Him and for others.
If we truly understand the grace and the love of God, then The Great Commission ceases to be The Great Obligation, The Great Chore, The Great Peer Pressure but instead becomes The Great Passion. We cease to respond out of compulsion and obligation to the command. We cease to compare ourselves with others in regards to this. Instead it becomes our heart’s desire, our passion, because it becomes an expression of love to the One Who loved us by giving His life for us.