Saturday, August 26, 2006

Who's Coming to the Party?

Have you ever been to a party where there’s an uninvited guest? It’s usually an uncomfortable scene. People whisper. What nerve! Can you believe it? Who does she think she is?

Someone asked me recently why I keep talking to Christians. Why my book and my ministry focus on people who are already saved. I didn’t have a good answer. I still don’t. It’s a question that’s rattled and challenged me lately. Have I thrown a party, I wonder, for friends. Are those outside the community of faith uninvited guests? Not by design, but oversight.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Matthew 28:18-20

This is the Great Commission. The last known personal instruction Jesus gave the Disciples. In verse 18, Jesus lays out His jurisdiction. His authority is “in heaven and on earth.” It is not a limited portfolio or range of command. Jesus has “all” authority. And with this mighty clout, He issues an order: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (vs. 19) ”

Couple thousand years ago, “go” meant walk or ride a donkey or take a boat. Flash forward to 2006. Think of the relative ease with which we can evangelize today. We have airplanes and mass transit and cable television and print on demand. On the one hand, this has made it very easy to spread the Good News. One individual can reach millions. But what happens when you take the feet, the donkey and the boat out of the equation? When there’s this sense that the professionals are out there using technology to get the job done. Evangelism—reaching the lost—can insidiously become someone else’s job. When it was your job and my job all along.

Notice that the sentence “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” begins with a verb. The subject “you” is not said but understood. Jesus said “go” because “you go” was clearly implied.

I am coming to a personal conclusion that the “you” understood here is not only the missionary in Russia, the church builder in China or the professional evangelist. While it is all of them and more… it is also me. And you.

Unlike the social scene, the uninvited guest must be welcome at our party of faith. Not only welcome but chased and wooed. By telecast and simulcast and books and blogs and planes and trains and automobiles and blackberries and blueberries and boysenberries and phone calls and e-mails and letters and donkeys and boats! Whatever it takes.

I know who I’ve been talking to.

How about you?


Anonymous said...

Is the church a church or is it a place for a social gathering? Are guest really welcome? The church says they are, but then what does the congregation say. That becomes the truth regardless of what the church says. In our modern society of fashions and trends we look to how a person dresses, how they are groomed, what job they have as to whether we will accept them. Is that what really counts how a person looks, or what job they hold.
What about outside the church how many people do we pass or look down upon because they our out of our circle of influence. Everyone can use a kind word, a smile, a thank you, or just a nice thought. Too many people in this world have become invisible. Open your eyes let them know they are alive and welcome them in this world.
I watched a friend one day as we were walking down the sidewalk of a retail shopping area stop when we came to the man who keeps the sidewalks clean of trash and debris that people carelessly throw down. This man is out there in the cold and heat day after day. This friend stopped for a moment and said “I just want to thank you for the job that you do every day. You are doing a wonderful job.” He made one of the invisible people less invisible. He opened a world of possibilities in that moment.
It only takes one match to start a fire.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

anon... you have hit one of my "hot buttons" in regard to our human tendency to judge people on the basis of how they look, where they live, what kind of car they drive, where they work, etc. one of the most dignified and elegant women i've ever known was a maid in Virginia. to most of her clients, she was a house cleaner. to me, she was a star.