This morning at IF:Equip the passage was the Great Commission. You know how it goes.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. and behold, i am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:16-20
This passage, especially the part about Going therefore and making disciples is a tricky one. Oh, sure, it’s an easy one to nod along to. It’s an easy one to plaster next to maps of the world in your church’s sanctuary. It’s an easy one to memorize, to read and reread, and it’s even an easy one to tattoo on your feet. But doing it? Going and making disciples? That can be tricky.
I know because I did it. I’m doing it. I half-way did it. I did the going. I have gone. I went. I’m here. In the Dominican Republic where I did not grow up, where I do not get paid much, and where exactly zero of my family members live. I gave up access to Taco Bell, a larger Netflix collection, and public libraries to come here. So, check that one off my list, God. I went, so you can make the disciples now. Because as Jen Hatmaker points out in today’s IF:equip video, God is the one who makes the disciples. So He can get cracking now!
But that’s where it gets tricky. Because Jen also said that we should know our neighbors. And of course, duh, we should know our neighbors. And that sounds natural to me because my neighbors from the ages of birth to seventeen years old are still some of the most important people in my life. But I have a giant ol’ confession – I cannot name one of the other people who live in my building. Not one. Darn it.
But I went!
And then I sat.
The closing question today on IF:equip is this: “where is one place you feel there is a need for you to go in faith?” My first thought was, “Jarabacoa!” Because I was just in Jarabacoa and I love it there and I want to move there today, tomorrow, yesterday so I can look at the mountains any time I want. And I think that moving to Jarabacoa would take faith, absolutely. but I can’t move my whole life four hours away today, tomorrow, or yesterday. So where do I need to go in faith in the mean time? In the today and the tomorrow?
A big thing that the American church is learning lately is that we have to go. Seems like a silly thing for a people dedicated to the Word of God would have to learn, since it’s right here in black and white, the words of Jesus: “Go,” but we are a hard-hearted, closed-eyed human race and sometimes it takes a while for something to really sink in. But we’re learning that it’s not enough to have a kick butt sound system and professional-grade musicians. We’re learning that it’s not enough for our pastor to wear jeans on Sunday morning and our youth group to be the most happening place around. We’re learning that relationships are more important (and more effective) than gimmicks. And all that is good, great news.
But now we actually have to do it. Now we actually have to pull up a chair, cook a meal and extend the invitation, and we have to listen to what people say and respond in turn. We have to invest in and sacrifice for and exist with people. That is where the making of disciples happens. It’s not enough to exist in your bubble, to surround yourself with people like you, to be “crushed under your steeples” (JH). God is big and powerful and capable of doing whatever He wants but what He wants is to use you and me to show people more of Himself. It’s like Glennon was saying yesterday,
“We have God in us. That’s what makes us delicious. And I think God sent US to be here for each other because God’s inside of us–so God knows that if we show up–God’s here too. God sends us to each other.”
That is why we go. That is why I went. So that I can keep showing up with this little piece of God in me in order to share it with other people. But God is a great, big, wonderful God. So in this process of sharing the little bits of Him that I have in me, I receive the little bits of Him that are in other people. And just like my first graders making no bake cookies, each one in charge of an ingredient, we put all of our bits of God together and the sum is so much better than the parts. Peanut butter is good. God’s sovereignty is good. But mix that peanut butter with some chocolate and oats and mix that understanding of sovereignty with grace and forgiveness and mmm… now we’ve really got something.
This is why we go. For more God. It’s always and everything to see more of Him, to know more of Him, and to make more of Him known. If I learned anything in my summers with YouthWorks, it’s that when we know the why, we are much more motivated to obey. I go not only to share my God, but to receive my God. And in that process, disciples are made. Glory to God.