The Great Commission. Jesus's Last Word. Given to the first disciples as they gathered on a mountain in Galilee.
Last word. First priority.
'Making Disciples' is the first priority of the gathered community of believers, otherwise known as The Church.
To be disciples and to make disciples.
Disciples make disciples...MakeDisciplesMakeDisciplesMakeDisciples...
Making disciples comes before...
- making our church buildings secure
- making good worship
- making the church grow
- making the tea
Making disciples comes before making all these things, because, as the Church, we cannot make any of these things happen, unless we make disciples...
...although, as my colleague Annette pointed out, it is in doing these things that we make disciples (of one another).
But isn't making disciples hard work?
Not if we go and do it in the 'authority' of Jesus.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore..."
Disciples are followers, and discipleship is followership.
Discipleship begins in the world.
Jesus called his first disciples not in a religious temple, but on a beach. They understood very little of who He really was and what was His mission, until after His death and Resurrection.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."
Nations are 'people groups'. People form groups. We're tribal. Jesus calls us to go and make disciples of every group of people.
Every: tribe, tongue, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, political affiliation, gender identity...
Everyone can be a disciple of Jesus. None are excluded. All you have to do is to start following.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...and teach[ing] them to obey everything that I have commanded you..."
So, what exactly are the commands of Jesus. Jesus's commands are small and massive at the same time.
Two simply commands, which as Jesus says elsewhere, sum up the spirit of the Law. The Law of Love.
- Love God with everything you've got
- Love your neighbour - the person next to you - as yourself
And Jesus tells the learned lawyer a story. The story of the Good Samaritan. What Jesus does here is to take a person most despised by his Jewish compatriots, and by implication this lawyer, and set him up as the hero. Its one of the most enduring of Jesus's stories. Its the story of 'enemy love'.
Who is my neighbour?
My neighbour is my enemy.
Loving enemies is an active thing. It involves knowing. And Listening.
As we seek to love our enemies, we just might discover that 'they' are not 'them' at all, but that 'we' are 'us'.
And maybe, just maybe, our enemies might become our friends...
...and our friends, followers.
Christ Church Toxteth Park, 11 June