OFF KILTER BLOG: The Great Commission
Today's message is all about missions. What brought this to mind was a recent family
argument. I have a degree in world missions, and I believe missions is a part of everything we do. I'm going on a missions trip to Madagascar this summer (can't wait) and I have an aunt who has a real passion for Uganda. She is taking her whole family on a missions trip there this year. So needless to say, there's a lot of fundraising going on about now. My dad was always an atheist, while the rest of us were christians growing up, but he became a christian too, later in life. However, dad still has a lot of questions. He wants to know what right family members have to ask him to help with their missions trip. What is he going to get out of it anyway?
The hardcore band The Great Commission gets its name from Jesus' message in the gospel of Mark that we call the great commission sermon. The context is this: Jesus has been put to death on a cross, is buried, and returns to life. During this time He appears to many witnesses, and this is His final message to His beloved disciples before ascending back to heaven. So these words are Christ's last directive to His followers.
Mark 16:15-18 (TNIV) "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.'"
Mark 16:15-18 (The Message: Remix) "The He said, 'Go into all the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all. Whoever believes and is baptised is saved; whoever refuses to believe is damned. These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, and they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.'"
So what does that mean for the original 12 disciples- and for us as the current stable of disciples? Are we all really supposed to be missionaries and go to other lands preaching the gospel? The answer in short is yes. We all have different gifts and strengths. The apostle Paul discusses this in I Corinthians 12:28-31. Not all will be strangers in a strange land (that's my gratuitous Iron Maiden reference), but all christians are to be involved in missionary work wherever they are called to go. That could be as a pastor or a teacher right where you are, as a factory worker, a business owner, or service worker, as well as christians who pack up their belongings and go to a foreign people either temporarily or permanently. None are more important than any other, because all of us are at the same task.
About now- if my dad were reading this- he'd be saying- what does this have to do with me giving money to the church or helping others with their missions trip? And the answer would be that it has everything to do with it. In the Old Testament, the Israelites would bring ten percent (called a tithe) of their goods to help take care of the Levite priests who did the sacrifices. Now the Levites and the sacrificial system are no more, but believers give money to their churches and other ministries that are close to their hearts. Notice I'm going to avoid the whole tithe argument and just say that we are to give cheerfully. Why do we do this? To fulfill the great commission. We fund churches and missionaries that are out preaching the gospel to the world just as we were directed to do. You might not be a preacher, but giving a little in the offering or to someone planning on a missions trip helps to get the gospel preached. We are all ministers- whether you ever pursue professional ordination or not. Be a light wherever you find yourself led.
Now let's go back to the scripture verses. If you're saying- ok, I understand this preaching the gospel, and people getting saved, but what's all this business about exorcisms, glossolalia (speaking in tongues), snake handling, and drinking poison- that can't be for today. I just don't get it! Then tune in next time when we talk about the Holy Spirit's role in helping us fulfill our metal mission (Tempest).