Picture the following scene on the movie screen of your mind. The camera pans across a field, moves up the side of a mountain, and settles on a leader with a small band of hand-picked, trained and tested followers surrounding him.
The leader gives them their final assignment and the details of their mission. They are something like a Special Ops troop being deployed into enemy territory. They are being asked to leave their places of comfort and do hard work for the mission.
Their orders come not on a tape that will self-destruct but in person, straight from the lips of the commander himself. “As you are going, make disciples of all people groups.”
“All people groups?” you wonder. You take a mental note of those in the scene. None have traveled outside their own people—the Jewish people—and avoid Gentiles like the plague. They have no degrees. If anything they are underqualified. You don’t think this sounds anything like a Special Ops scene. You mumble “this mission is going to be a disaster.”
The reason being that what we see on the outside is different than what Jesus sees on the inside. We see Peter. He’s hard-headed and fish-focused. He popped off when he should have kept quiet. He kept quiet when he should have confessed. We see a failure. Jesus sees his leader.
We see James and John. Hot-blooded. Ready to wipe out unbelieving cities with one stream of fire from heaven. We see reactionaries. Jesus sees revolutionaries who will replace their calling of fire down from heaven with calling heaven’s love down to earth.
If we look closely enough we see ourselves. Common. Afraid of venturing out into a world on a mission of change. Fearful of the change it will bring to our own worlds. That’s what we see on the outside. Jesus sees his Special Ops troops.
It may sound like a daunting task. And it is. But look closely at the directives. “As you are going…” It means “as you continue on your journey.” Jesus wants us to reclaim territory where we are every day. That’s why your Wednesdays matter as much to Jesus as your Sundays. The truck you drive is his truck. The computer station you work at is his computer station. The dentist office you visit, the gym you work out at, the people you meet for dinner, are all people he cares about. And because you are in those places due to your skills or where you live or your interests you are his Special Ops agent there.
What would happen if you saw yourself in this way? I imagine we might have ongoing conversations with our Missions Director throughout the day: “What do you want me to do for that co-worker over there?” “How would you help my employer have a better day if you were me?” “Help me know what decision to make on this deal that’s fair to all.”
More than merely getting the job done, you want to accomplish your mission. You start seeing the people around you as potential learners of the way of Jesus. Jesus says “as you are going.” Be present with people wherever you are.
The gathered church is more like a training camp. When we are serious about making disciples of other people groups we will need some help and instruction. That happens with the church gathered. Then we are deployed on mission between Sundays. Francis of Assisi had it right when he said, “Preach the gospel at all times. And, if necessary, use words.”
The best way to make disciples is to be a disciple. The life of a disciple will cause others to notice. And once they are noticed, words will help. The life comes first. Words follow.
“As you go make disciples of all people groups.” The first disciples did then and they changed the world. If we do now, the story will not be a disaster. It will be epic.
Question: Where does your “going” take you weekly and who are the people you encounter as you go?