Growing up I played a lot of team sports. Mainly, I played baseball and soccer. On most of the teams I played, there was a fair amount of camaraderie and unity. I’m sure if you’ve ever played team sports, you have felt that as well.
The cause of that camaraderie and unity comes from a singular mission and devotion. You are all in it together. You are all working towards the same goals — to win the championship and to become the best athlete you can be. Those goals bring a team together. I’ve experienced that, and I’m sure you have experienced that as well.
But for all the camaraderie and unity I have experienced as a part of a team, nothing brings us together like Jesus. When we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become the people of God. He is our Father and we are His children, which makes us all brothers and sisters in the Lord. It makes us all a family. If you think about it, that is amazing in and of itself because the people of God, the church, is comprised of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. We are a diverse yet unified group. I don’t know about you, but I feel that unity when I meet another Christian. It doesn’t matter where I’m at. I could be half-way across the world or down at the local Starbucks. When I meet a fellow believer, there is an instant connection and bond that’s formed. I immediately feel comfortable and connected with them. The reason we feel that connection is not only because we are brothers and sisters in the Lord, but because we share a common mission and devotion.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that unity when I meet another Christian. It doesn’t matter where I’m at. I could be half-way across the world or down at the local coffee shop. When I meet a fellow believer, there is an instant connection and bond that’s formed. I immediately feel comfortable and connected with them. The reason we feel that connection is not only because we are brothers and sisters in the Lord, but because we share a common mission and devotion.
What’s the unified mission and devotion of the church?
Over the next several posts, I’m going to answer that question, as well as I’m going to look at what empowers our mission and devotion.
What is the Unified Mission of the Church? (vs. Matt 28:18-20)
In Matthew 28 Jesus gives our mission. In verse 19 He says,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:19a)
Our mission, then, as believers is to “make disciples”. That’s what we are to do.
What’s a disciple?
A disciple is someone who follows a specific teacher or leader. When Jesus tells us that we are to “make disciples”, what He means is that we are to cause others to follow Him.
The way we make disciples is by telling them the good news about Jesus so that they would want to follow Him too. You see, we aren’t in the business of forcing anyone to follow Jesus. Instead, we are to convince others that following Jesus is what’s best.
Following Jesus is what’s best for us.
Jesus has saved us from the Father’s punishment by taking our punishment for us. That’s necessary because we are sinners, who live in rebellion to God. We rebel against God and sin when we forsake His commandments and way of doing things for our way. As rebels, we deserve God’s punishment, which involves the Father’s wrath being poured out on us for an eternity in Hell.
The good news, however, is that we don’t have to experience Hell, nor do we have to live at odds with God now. We can experience eternal life and a relationship with the Father now that involves His blessing, protection, and Fatherly care. As well as we can experience freedom from the bondage, the stranglehold, that sin has on our lives. The best part is that we don’t have to pay or work for these benefits. They are freely given by God. All we have to do is humble ourselves, which we do by believing that it’s Jesus work that provides eternal life, a restored relationship, and freedom from sin’s bondage. Specifically, His work on the cross, where our sins were placed on Him and He was punished in our place. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate, the perfect God-man, who deserved no punishment because He never once rebelled against His Father, was punished in our place so that we can experience the benefits of the gospel!
When we realize and experience what Jesus has done for us, we should want to tell others the good news so that can experience what we have and are experiencing. Freedom from sin, hope in the future, joy in a restored relationship, Fatherly care and blessing, true love.
Not only should we want to tell others the good news, but that’s the mission Jesus has given us. He tells us that we are to be disciples who make disciples.
We make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching.
The first of those is “going”. Again, in the beginning of verse 19, Jesus says:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:19a)
Going tells us that we aren’t to sit stagnantly. We aren’t to just let folks come to us. Instead, we are to go and find folks to tell the good news.
When Jesus tells us to go, He doesn’t just mean for us to go on a mission trip, or go and be a missionary in another country. Those things are necessary and we should do them, but that’s not all that Jesus means when He tells us to go.
Instead, He has in mind that we are making disciples as we are going about our day. So whether we are living in Africa, China, or Decatur, we are to make disciples as we are going about our day.
Along with going, we are also to baptize those who believe the gospel. That’s what Jesus tells us in the remainder of verse 19 when He says,
“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mt 28:19a)
Now, you have to know that Jesus doesn’t tell us to baptize others because baptism saves. Instead, He tells us to baptize because Baptism shows a person’s commitment to follow Him. In other words, it’s a way of telling the watching world that we are aligning ourselves with Jesus as His follower. That’s why baptism is done publicly instead of privately.
Along with going and baptizing, we are also to teach those who believe the gospel to obey all God has commanded in His Word. Look at the beginning of verse 20. There Jesus says that we are to:
“[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you.”” (Mt 28:20a)
This command isn’t just for Pastors. It’s for everyone. We are all commanded to teach others how to follow Jesus. That tells us, then, that making disciples isn’t just about leading someone to make a profession of faith. Making disciples involves much more. It involves us teaching others what it means and how to follow Jesus.
Before you start to rethink my earlier comment that this isn’t just a command for pastors, know that you can teach in many different ways.
- You may teach in a formal setting like a church service, Bible study, or Sunday School class.
- Or you might teach your family through conversation at the dinner table or a regular family devotion.
- You might also teach others at the church by joining into the discussion during Sunday School or Bible study.
- Or you might get together with another church member for lunch or coffee and talk about what God is doing in your life.
There are a number of different ways you can teach others, which means it’s possible for all of us to be teachers. In some sense that’s encouraging, but in another sense that’s scary because it means that we are all either teaching others how to be or how not to be disciples of Jesus.
So that’s our unified mission and how we can accomplish it.
But you know, we don’t accomplish that mission in our own power. Instead, we receive a power outside ourselves that helps us make disciples. We will talk about what empowers us as believers next time.
Question for Reflection
- Are you a disciple who makes disciples?
Post adapted from my sermon The Unified Mission, Devotion, and Power of the Church