Exactly 20 years ago, I was attending a course to prepare myself to be sent as a missionary. Being a course on missions, it was natural that the Great Commission (found in Matthew 28:19-20) would be talked about a lot. One of the statements that was repeated again and again about the Great Commission was that “It is a finishable task”. We were shown statistics saying that if every Bible-believing Christian would lead 6 people to the Lord, the world would be totally evangelized. Obviously, this hasn’t happened. Since then the Great Commission has remained just that: A finishable task.
What went wrong?
I’d like to submit to you that there are two reasons why the Great Commission still has not be fulfilled.
For one, we have missed the fact that the Great Commission was given to the Jews. From as early as Abraham, God has made it clear that it is the destiny of the Jewish people to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth (Gen 12:1-2). But due to their disobedience, God temporarily gave the privilege to the Gentiles but only so that the Jews might be provoked to jealousy. The day will come when “all Israel will be saved”. And when they do, they will the greatest blessing the world has every known. Ignorant of this fact, the Church has charged forward with conviction and a tinge of arrogance.
To be fair, the church has advanced quantitatively. Many new church are started around the world. But is that what Christ is looking for?
The first problem with the Church’s attempt to fulfill the Great Commission lies with its theology: we can’t do it alone, we need our Jewish brethren. The second problem is with our methods. What we have specialized is the art of doing church, not making disciples.
Back home, new churches are springing up all over. Pews are being filled every week. However, if a tree is known by its fruits then we can’t say with full confidence that our churches are all good and healthy, can we?
I’m not talking about perfect churches for there aren’t any on this side of eternity. Christ knows there aren’t any too, and so he is not looking for it. He is, however, looking for churches that would obey. Obedience is, after all, at the center of the Great Commission: “teach them to obey all that I have commanded”.
Allow me to leave you with these words which the Spirit spoke to Church in Sardis:
“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Rev 3:2).