In the first two months of the year, we have asked God to open our eyes to the plight of the lost and wandering. “Father, awaken us to see that the vast majority of people, every one of them bearing Your divine image, is on the wrong road. They are traveling the pathway that leads to destruction because they have no knowledge of the saving power of the Jesus story.”
I hope we've heard God's wakeup call--that as we’ve engaged in prayer and fasting for these faceless, nameless people that our hearts, minds, and bodies have become attuned to their great need “to know the Messiah and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). I pray that we compassionately see them as Jesus sees them: “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Intense prayer for the lost is a good thing. But you know well that we have been called to do more. How can they call on the Messiah Jesus when they don’t believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him when they’ve never heard the truth about Him? And how can they hear about Jesus if no one preaches it to them? And how can people preach the truth if they have not been sent (my paraphrase of Rom. 10:14-15)?
Indeed, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
And so, we have prayed. We’ve prayed because Jesus commands us to pray. But Jesus has also commissioned us to “go and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15)—to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
We are the sent people of God—ambassadors for the faith, witnesses to the work of Jesus,
preachers of the Good News about Messiah Jesus.
Immediately, we have questions! Where do we go? What is our message? How do we deliver the message to so many lost people?
We see the magnitude of the problem. We see our own shortcomings and inabilities and, frankly, lack of time. “I have a life to live, Jesus! A job to perform! A spouse to keep happy! Children to raise! I don’t have time to go and preach! And what is the gospel anyway? I’m not even sure I know!”
These are the questions we’ll be answering in the month of March in both our Sunday morning Bible class and in a new sermon series called The Sent Church. I have been praying that you will commit yourself to attend both. Satan is working hard to prevent that: too busy, too afraid of coronavirus, Daylight Saving Time, self-doubt!
Ah… self-doubt. That’s a big one. One part of the Great Commission passage that we’ve paid very little attention to is verse 17, “And when the eleven saw Jesus, they worshiped him. But some doubted.”
Worship and doubt. Among the disciples, there is both. Notice that Jesus doesn’t refuse their worship, nor does He address their doubt. He is God in flesh and therefore worthy of praise. And He knows that their doubts will melt away when the Spirit comes at Pentecost.
Would we not admit that as we come together to praise Jesus this Sunday morning that there will also be a fair amount of doubt among us? Yes, there will be worship! But some will doubt.
Here’s something else we don’t think about much. The same Spirit who empowered the disciples at Pentecost also empowers us. He’s not a different Spirit! He hasn’t changed one whit! He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever! The Spirit of God is God! And He lives in us. If He doesn’t, then we have a huge problem because Paul says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Messiah does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). Our resurrection on the Last Day depends on the indwelling Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who raised Jesus will also raise us!
The same Spirit who erased the doubt of the disciples “testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” And in the same way that He empowered and enabled the disciples, He will also empower and enable us.
As we go through life, may we proclaim Jesus through our words, our deeds, and our attitudes. May there be no doubt about who we are. May people see our different-ness, our peculiarity, and our hope. And most importantly, may they see our love.
"By this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).