“That’s a good question!” How often have you said that when someone poses a difficult but legitimate question to you concerning something you are involved in? This week as my wife and I met with several families at a dinner that was hosted for us, we spoke about our ministry to Spain. At the end of our talk, we opened up the time for questions that people might have concerning our ministry and what it means to partner with us. One questions, in particular, stood out to me and I wanted to share it with you, along with my response. I want to share this with you because I think it’s a common question in the minds of believers, even if they are afraid to actually ask it.
There is so much work to be done here in America [read: wherever it is that you are from] in terms of sharing the Gospel and making disciples, so why should we do missions in another country.
That’s a good question! When I was just beginning to think about missions as a young believer I asked the same question. It is true; there is a lot of work to do here in the USA in terms of evangelism and discipleship, but does that mean that we get to set God’s agenda for missions? I don’t think so. When considering this question I found my answers in the Word of God. Here is something to consider.
We go because Jesus commands us to go. In Matthew 28:16-20 we see the 11 disciples bowing before and worshipping the resurrected Jesus. It is in these verses that we get the command to make disciples (Matt 28:19). This command to make disciples is predicated upon Jesus’ authority. He began by saying, “
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18–19 ESV)
Jesus is our Lord. He has all authority. He gets to set the agenda, not me. If he commands us to make disciples all over the world (c.f. Acts 1:8) then, as his servant, it is not only my obligation but my privilege to say, “Yes, Lord.”
But does that mean that we all have to go? Do we all have to pack up and head to a foreign land in order to make disciples? No. The word “go” in Matthew 28:19 is actually a participle in the Greek manuscripts, so you could actually translate it, “going.” Or I might even translate it, “as you go.” We are all to “observe all that Jesus commanded,” including making disciples “as we go.”
But some are called to do that where they are, while others are called by God to leave there hometowns and to literally go. You can see this kind of missional diversification in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch to set aside Saul (Paul) and Barnabas for the work of missions in other places, while the church itself was to remain. Both those being SENT as well as the SENDERS bear the responsibility of making disciples. It comes down to this: we are to be disciples who make disciples, wherever we are, or wherever God sends us.
But this command to make disciples in our hometowns and in the farthest reaches of the globe should not feel like a burden. Just because it is a command does not mean that it can not be our joy to fulfill it. Jesus has promised to be with us as we seek to accomplish what he has commanded (Matthew 28:20), and he has given us his Holy Spirit to empower us for the work of making disciples (Acts 1:8). Since we are counted among those who fall at the feet of Jesus and worship, let us then allow that joyful awe of our great Lord overflow into the lives of others as we seek to make disciples, sharing the Good News that Jesus is not only our Lord but our greatest companion.