Pastor Travis Burkett
A few years ago, I met a missionary from Colombia. I was encouraged as he
explained the increase of Christianity in their city. He claimed the younger generation was tired of their heritage of Catholicism and Buddhism and were searching for something more than rituals and religion.
The fact is there are many countries that have an increasing rate of people placing
their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, America seems to be declining in its Christian values. In 1949, there were estimated to be seven hundred thousand Christians in China. Now, there are forty-four million today.
Why is the Gospel more effective in other countries? Has America become so
comfortable that we quenched the excitement and moving of the Spirit? In America, seventy-five percent claim to be supposed “Christians.” In the 1990s, eighty-six percent of our population claimed to be “Christian.”
How do you suppose that happened? Christianity in places like China are growing
but here…in America, it’s as if we are losing hope. I’m reminded of Matthew 28:19-20. The famous great commission passage that Jesus left to His followers. You know it, "Go. Teach. Baptize. Disciple." I love reading the Bible and seeing the passion of Jesus's followers. People leaving jobs to follow Him. The sick reaching in faith to touch His garments. The boy willing to give his lunch. The early church willing to suffer persecution. These followers were willing to take the mission that God had for His followers. But the question is, how did they get to the point where they were excited to fulfill the mission that God had for their lives?
Well, the answer is at the beginning of chapter 28. Before we can devote to the
mission of Matthew 28:19-20, we must first realize the steps the followers have already taken. In verse 1, they followed scripture ("In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week..."). In verse 9, they believed the resurrected Jesus and it brought them to worship ("And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.") In verse 10, they obeyed Jesus ("Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.") See, we get to verses 19-20 (the mission) but the desire and obedience were already established. I’m saying, before you fulfill the mission God has for you, you need to first believe and grasp a desire to obediently follow.
Jesus calls His followers here in Matthew 28:19-20 to be willing to: Go (be a willing
vessel); Teach (teach them about Jesus’s love and sin's curse); Baptize (help them see the picture of Jesus’s death/burial/resurrection); Disciple (follow God’s Word). God has called all who claim Christ to be a Matthew 28 Christian. To be faithful to His Word. To be drawn to worship. To follow in obedience. We see missionaries willing to go and God does a work. May we not be comfortable because seventy-five percent claim Christianity here. May we realize that people need the Lord and the Lord calls us to follow His mission.