At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, “Jesus came to the [apostles] 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” (Matthew 28:18-20).
This commission — known as the Great Commission — is echoed in some form or another in all the gospels. It was not given to just twelve men — eleven, actually, because Judas was out of the picture — but to all of us who say they choose to follow Christ. We are aware of this commission, yet few choose to fulfill it. So, perhaps we need some motivation. How can we obtain this? Here are a few things that might motivate us.
One, a sense of purpose. Think of how much time we spend securing things for ourselves here on earth. How much of it will we take with us? Should we not try to secure things for ourselves in heaven, which is for eternity? Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). One of the ways we accumulate heavenly treasure is through fulfilling the Great Commission.
Two, a dose of fear. A healthy dose of fear never hurt anyone; in fact, as it says in Proverbs 9:10, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. However, the fear we should have is eternal separation from him, not just for ourselves but also for the world around us. We are saved from hell thanks to our salvation in Christ. But what of the people out there who don’t know him? Are we not afraid that they will perish for all eternity?
Three, a spirit of compassion. We all feel compassion for the sick, the lost, and the lonely. When we hear of someone in trouble, our first instinct is to help them even though we might not always be able to. When we can, we provide for their food, clothing, and shelter. However, these are temporal needs. What about their spiritual needs? As we already saw, people are in danger of eternal hellfire. We need to care about these things more than anything else.
Four, a heart of gratitude and love. Anyone who has truly experienced the love of God, understanding the huge sacrifice he made by sending his Son, Jesus, to die for us, will be grateful to God. They will also respond to this great love with love of their own. Gratitude and love are both huge motivators to reach out to other people. One, because we want to do something to repay the person who did something for us. And two, when we love somebody, we want to make them happy. What better way for us to make the Father happy than by getting more of his children home?
Five, an understanding of need. God needs US to bring his people home. I want us to think about this. In his infinite wisdom, God has chosen to collaborate with us to save the world. He wants us to be his feet to walk to people. He wants us to be his mouth to talk to people. He wants us to be his hands to touch people. And when we do this, we really are walking in imitation of Christ.
So, let us choose to evangelize today. After making these forty life-giving choices, I know we are eager to exercise today’s choice, but how? I will soon resume discipleship training, emphasizing practical training and inviting students to travel on missions with me. We don’t need to preach to those who know Christ, however limited their knowledge of him might be, but to those who don’t know him at all. Look forward to an invitation soon. I hope you will join me on that journey. In the meantime, thank you for journeying with me on this one. It has been a joy and a pleasure.
God bless you.