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The Great Commission

Christ gave His disciples instructions after the resurrection and before returning to heaven.  The central instruction to His disciples, and to all Christians, is the Great Commission: “All authority is given to Me in heaven and earth.  Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NKJV).  We are still living in that age.

The Father takes the Great Commission seriously.  He appointed Ezekiel as watchman over Israel: “I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from my mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you give them no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man will die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 3:17-20).

The prophet Ezekiel was given a specific commandment from God.  A watchman stood guard on the city wall on lookout for the enemy.  A negligent watchman who failed to spot an enemy was responsible for the deaths of the people in the city.  This charge was specific to Ezekiel.  However, God is as concerned today for the spiritual welfare of His people as He has always been.  God loves us so much that he became human as Jesus specifically to show us the errors of our ways, guide us to the way of returning to God, and to die on the cross to pay for our sin.  Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior is the only way to be restored into fellowship with God.  Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission that, is similar to His instruction to Ezekiel, to be a witness to everyone we meet.  The responsibility was beautifully summed up by a homeless evangelist who said, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody”.

Our main job as Christians to witness and evangelize doesn’t mean we all need to be pastors, missionaries or evangelists, although some are.  It does mean that we need to live our lives in a manner consistent with the way Jesus treats us, so the unsaved can see Jesus through us and are drawn to Him by our lives regardless of our occupation or lack of occupation.  This is especially true of the example we set when going through the roughest hardships and trials in our lives, because Christ leading us through these tribulations is a powerful witness to the unsaved, giving them the hope that the same help is available to them if they accept Jesus as their Savior.  Corrie Ten Boom wrote the book “The Hiding Place” about her experiences in a German concentration camp during World War Two.  The book was later made into a movie.  One sour, mean woman watched Corrie every day, finally telling her, “I want what you have”.  What Corrie had was Christ.

Jesus started the Great Commission by saying all authority is given Him in heaven and on earth, and concluded by saying He is with Christians forever, even to the end of the world.  The meaning here is that Christians are in Christ and He is in them.  He will exercise His authority and power through us to enable our carrying out the work He has given us to do.  He told the disciples that as long as He was in the world He was the light of the world.  After He returned to heaven Christians became the light to the world:  ” A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 13-16).

People today are rejecting god, and are trying to set themselves up as the ultimate authority of what is right or wrong, or how they should lead their lives.  This is the same mistake that Lucifer made that got him expelled from heaven, and that he coerced Eve into coercing Adam to make, even though they both knew better.  It didn’t work for Satan, it didn’t work for Adam and Eve, and it doesn’t work for people today, particularly for young people who are still trying to figure out how the world works and what their place is in the world.  When what the world tells them to do doesn’t work, they feel alienated and lost with no sense of purpose or direction.  The result is that they become fearful of not having control over their lives, which leads to anger and frustration.  Some try to compensate through misdirected attempts to regain control and add value to their lives like school shootings, bombings and other forms of violence.

Christians can significantly lower the frequency of these acts and lower the overall crime rate by demonstrating to others that the biblical standard for living is the only one that works.  God clearly gave us His directions for living in the 66 books of the Bible.  He gave us the purpose for life, which is to do His will for our individual lives for the short time we are here on earth.  Clarity of purpose for life gives people direction, which gives them a sense of personal value.  People with a clear sense of what and who they are and who know they are cherished by God have no inclination to be violent.  Doing the work God wants them to do is the natural consequence of being a Christian, just as growing apples is a natural consequence of being an apple tree.

Here is a challenge for you:  If you are a Christian, but have not been doing the work the Father has planned for you to do, pray for direction and follow His lead.  If you are not a Christian, accept Christ as your personal Savior and pray for God to show you the work He has planned for you.  This country–and the world– needs Christian activism to cause a revival.  A revival would not only bring millions of people to Christ, it would also reduce the level of violence and increase the quality of life in our cities and nation.  I challenge you to start today.

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