I can remember as a teenager being glued to the TV each week to watch an episode of Mission Impossible. Each week actor, Peter Graves, led a team that was given an extremely dangerous mission to accomplish. How would the mission be accomplished when the team was up against overwhelming odds? In order to accomplish the mission, every person on the team had to fulfill its role at precisely the right time and in the right way. In the end, they always accomplished the mission.
God has given His children a mission to accomplish here on earth. It, too, is a very dangerous mission and it requires every team member give careful attention to what needs to be done. This mission is the same for the individual, the home, church and school. The mission is referred to as the Great Commission and was given to us by Jesus before He ascended into heaven.
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.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
Most churches, Christian schools, and other Christian organizations have developed a mission and/or vision statement that expresses their purpose and guides them in all they do. Whatever the individual institution’s written statement is, it must aim at accomplishing the Great Commission found in Matthew’s gospel. Every Christian is to be striving to make disciples of all nations!
Unfortunately, this is not happening throughout Western Christianity. In a recent Barna Group report, it was found that only 17% of today’s churchgoers had heard about the Great Commission and thought that they knew what it meant. The Disciple Nations Alliance provides evidence that most Christians have redefined the Great Commission to mean only saving souls for Heaven and planting churches.
When we see what is happening across our country and around the world, we must admit that we are failing at making disciples who know and live out all that Jesus commanded. It is evident that you cannot make disciples without saving souls. But it is also true that you can save souls without making disciples. This has to change. The Great Commission must be the driving force behind the lives of individual Christians, the home, church and Christian school.
However, there is a problem that must be addressed in order to complete this mission. For someone to make a disciple of Jesus Christ, he or she must first be His disciple. What does it take for us to be disciples of Jesus Christ? When answering this question, many Christians will refer to Luke 14:27.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Here Jesus tells His followers that there is a cost to being His disciple. Being His disciple requires each person to die to self and live for Jesus Christ. In today’s world, dominated by “self”, few Christians seem willing to pay this price that is required to be a disciple of Christ.
However, God’s Word gives us some other insights into what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. In John 8, Jesus is talking to some Jews who had just become believers. He challenges them to go beyond being a mere believer to becoming one of His disciples.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NKJV)
To be a disciple of Jesus, one must “abide in My Word.” Another translation reads that a disciple must “continue in My Word.” A disciple of Jesus Christ must take up daily residence in the Bible! God’s Word can’t be something we just visit once in a while at church. It must be our dwelling place. Paul makes this clear when he writes,
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
Dr. George Barna is the director of the Christian Culture Center at Arizona Christian University. The Center has done extensive studies on the worldview of today’s Christian. The findings are troublesome — especially when it comes to Christians having the ability to make disciples of all nations.
- 75% of evangelicals and 76% of charismatics reject the Bible’s teaching that people are not basically good; we are sinners.
- 58% of evangelicals and 49% of charismatics reject the Bible’s teaching that people cannot earn a place in Heaven by being good or by doing good works.
- 42% of evangelicals and 38% of charismatics reject that the Bible is the primary source of moral guidance.
The reality is that today’s Christians are not “abiding in God’s Word” and, therefore, are not disciples of Jesus Christ. This means that we are not capable of making disciples because we are not disciples ourselves. Darrow Miller makes a statement that is not only frightening but is also being proven to be true.
If the church is not discipling the nation, the nation is discipling the church.
As a new school year begins, we must ask ourselves some important questions.
- Do we understand God’s mission for our lives?
- Have we truncated the Great Commission to only mean saving souls for Heaven?
- Are we willing to die to self and live for Christ?
- Have we taken up residence in God’s Word or are we merely visitors?
- Have Christian schools selected board members and hired teachers who are disciples or just believers?
- What are we doing to become Christ’s disciples so we can disciple the next generations?
If we are not disciples of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission is truly a Mission Impossible!