Kingdom Impact – Part 2

When Jesus shared the words of the Great Commission, what did He say, exactly?

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)  Matt 28:18-20

When Jesus shared these words of the Great Commission, what did He mean, exactly?  I don’t know how you were taught, but somewhere back in the Dark Ages of grade school I remember having the issue of looking at verbs to understand the intent of what someone was saying.  And so if we apply that understanding, here are the core words from the verbs from the words of Jesus-

“Go…..make disciples……baptise……teach…….obey”

I think for each one of us to understand the Great Commission we might take a look at it through what I would call a “Kingdom filter.”  I don’t take these words of Jesus as punitive or in any other manner than what I think He meant them to be- an encouraging Kingdom call as to how we should conduct our outreach, even today!

“Go”….For me at least this would imply a bit of sending.  Not sit back and wait for them to somehow find me in my particular corner of the world, but to physically go out and seek out others.  I can’t see how this is something we become reactive about, but rather, this is all about our being the active participant in this process.  Going out means exactly that-finding ways for us to leave where we might be, including our well-defined comfort zone, and heading out to be what He calls us to be.

“Make disciples…”  As the sentence reveals, this is coupled with the going and is the understood concept as to what we should be all about doing.  Disciple making is clearly the task, call, or however you’d like to consider the calling Jesus places upon our lives.   These are difficult words for us, since we might not understand what it means to be a disciple much less make a new one!

Yet the next verbs would indicate what it means to become a disciple-

“Baptise…..teach……obey”   The words of Matthew’s Gospel can be added back to enable us to get a fresh sense of the calling which we share.  We are to be all about the task of baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  If we need help on the matter, it would appear that Jesus suggests that once baptized and then taught, the new disciple would know how to obey the commands of Jesus.  Yet one more way to look at it, in order to be a follower of Jesus, we have to be baptized, and taught the virtues of what it means to be a follower!

Following Jesus as our personal goal then is right on target.  Helping others see the Kingdom of God manifested in our lives by our actions, words, and examples is part of the “teaching” process.  In the early days, those seeking to learn a trade became an “apprentice” and learned that trade by watching and doing, under the care of someone who knew that trade.

 

For you and I, Kingdom work today might be best be considered as living out the Kingdom values we know (or have been taught) to be true as an example for others to emulate, copy, and follow.  Then, they in turn could repeat the process.  Obviously, this lifts up the whole understanding of living it out on a daily basis.  Do our lifestyles enable “thy Kingdom come” in our lives?  Can others see their way clear to become a fellow follower of Christ?

If your answer is no, perhaps it’s time to rethink your direction!  We have no realistic impact for the Kingdom unless we are both modeling discipleship (following Jesus and obeying) in our lives and sharing that with others who need to apprentice that process.  Anything else, isn’t going to impact much!

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Kingdom Impact

Jesus invites us in Scripture to share in the “Kingdom presence” with those we meet or encounter.  Things are meant to be different as a result of the King of Kings and His work on the cross.  Jesus spent many words chronicled in the Gospels about the Kingdom of God happening right here, right now in His presence.I would take that invitation seriously for the church of today to make Kingdom transformation its chief goal as we relate one with another outside of the church.

We can’t expect people who have never heard of Jesus to know what He brings to our life and times today.  That task is left to you and I to discover new ways to make Kingdom impact in our circles!  We need to discover who we can help, touch with a helping hand, pray for in the midst of adversity, help lift them up when they have fallen, and perhaps even help them out of a nasty situation.

That gives us the unique chance to be transformational in our relations with others. We can live out in word and deed what it means to have been transformed in our lives first, so that we are free to show others what the King has done for us.  Once we claim that for ourselves, it becomes a lot easier to share that transformation with others.

As we journeyed across the Dominican Republic last week, we saw and entered in relationships that lifted our hearts and also made for Kingdom transformation right there and then.  We who share the promise of God can meet complete strangers and rejoice at the news of how they are shaping the lives of widows, orphans, and those rejected by the world.  We are able to step in and begin to seize the opportunities that God gives to us to partner with these believers to make His Kingdom come in our moments! What a blessing!

Of course, we do not have to travel to a foreign country to see Kingdom transformation.  Yet what is hard to see in our country becomes clear in another’s-  God is active and on the move to provide for His people and to meet them at their moments of greatest need.  What we do not always catch is that God often chooses you and I to accomplish that task for Him.  We chose to miss the point either by not paying attention or by simply not caring.  Somehow, we fool ourselves, if we don’t think about it, it isn’t real.

May I remind myself and all who care to listen that in our Lord’s prayer we pray the words- “Thy Kingdom Come.”  We can expect there is much spiritual warfare that is pitted against us to allow this to happen, but it really should not be coming from ourselves.  God calls us into Kingdom transformation by first calling us as His own, giving us the grace and forgiveness of sins on the Cross of Christ.  What we choose to do with that grace then falls into our lap.  I’m thinking the best thing to be doing is seeing how we can make that Kingdom happen here and now.  Not later, now!

So let’s wrestle with this thought-how will God use me today to make His Kingdom come?  That may be an uncomfortable thought, but I think it is at the core of what we do with the balance of our lives.  As Christ loved us, we love others, we do what is fair and just to our neighbor, we stay compassionate and loyal to our God, and we walk together humbly in His presence.

In Helping Others You Help Yourself

As this blog hits the Internet we are on our way to the Dominican Republic to explore some opportunities and missional possibilities as well as to meet with our Waterside church plants that we have started.  We are blessed to have such a good team of people on the ground whose hearts are for the Lord and who in the midst of great difficulty still carry out the work of sharing the love of Christ with all those they meet.  Their spirit of discipleship is rather powerful and it inspires me at least to appreciate all that I have at my fingertips and take for granted.

Mission trips are always filled with an awesome expectation that in some way, God will show up and make a difference.  Apart from establishing that divine moments that each trip participant always remembers, it is just an awesome expectation to be able to live in as you make the plans.

There is a process that I want to draw attention to in this regard.  Most people would never consider going to a foreign country to witness their faith to another person.  The clash of uncomfortable surroundings as well as a foreign culture keeps people from wanting to take that “leap of faith” as they carry out their missional calling.

Yet one of the things that I have learned is the only way we are changed, ultimately, is by going and reaching out to others.  It is never about what I might bring or take to them that matters, it always seems to be what they bring to me that is the difference and transforms me.  Their perspectives, their work, their faith always places my own in a brand new context.  And that, as they say, is transformational.

You can usually tell who has recently been on a mission trip, as they are the “one” who can’t stop talking about the experience.  They are the ones walking around “blown away” by the trip experiences.  They are the ones in some way, shape, or form, have seen God through the eyes of a friend in a foreign land.  Usually, it is a process that completely grabs their heart, and they are changed.

A lot changes when you come back from a trip.  You see how others live.  You see what challenges others might have.  You begin to reflect on what you have back home that you want to now use for the Lord’s work in ways you never have in the past.  You are transformed.

The sheer transformational value in helping others radically changes some people.  They can never go back to things the “way they were.”  I’m not trying to twist any arms here, but I do want to lift up the awesome change that I felt in my life, and invite you to consider the same.  If you are at a point in your life that you want to get out of “the box” you find yourself in, please take a moment and see what Waterside Global Missions might do for you in discovering how by helping others, you help yourself.  Take a look at the website anytime

In the meantime, I invite your prayers as we journey to the Dominican Republic.  May God use this time for His purposes, and may we all be transformed by His redemptive work in our lives today.