The mission has not been cancelled. God did not push the pause button. Our role in obeying it has not changed during this COVID-19 pandemic. What am I referring to? I’m referring to the commission Jesus gave his disciples, which is just as applicable to us today as it was nearly 2,000 years ago when he first uttered the words. I’m referring to Jesus’ words we find recorded in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19-20.
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
Jesus said, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
With COVID-19 swirling around us, we find ourselves in a unique situation, at least within our lifetime. Some of us have experienced or are currently experiencing a mandatory quarantine in our homes. Some of us find ourselves living under strict government induced lockdowns. Others of us have merely been asked to stay at home and do our part in social distancing. Regardless of our personal circumstances, the words Jesus spoke to His first disciples have not changed.
My pastor taught on Daniel 3 two weeks ago where we learn about the events of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. For those of us who have been Christians for some time now, this is a familiar story.
You probably learned, as I did, that these three men were steadfast and faithful to God despite opposition. We learned the result of their faithfulness landed them the death sentence by fire. Once inside the furnace, a fourth man showed up described as a ‘son of the gods’. Yet instead of death, the men lived without even the smell of smoke and fire on their clothes. This led the King to decree that all should worship the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
There is more surrounding this event but that’s pretty much the gist of the story. But, my pastor pointed out a key component of the text that I previously never noticed.
I have heard a number of sermons and teachings on the Great Commission and the two Greatest Commandments. What I do not often hear much of is how the three work in tandem and how they are inseparable with one another. Sure, some talk about it but I do not find it taking place as much as one might think, at least not from my perspective. And yes, I am guilty of this thing.
At many mission conferences, the Great Commission is the central theme, and I get it. Believers come together to learn about and share how God is working among the nations. We talk about the need to send more missionaries to the farthest corners of the globe. We tend to focus on some of the famous Great Commission verses like Matthew 18:19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, and Matthew 24:14. If we do not use one of these passages, some use Genesis 12 where God called Abram to go to a land he did not know.
This past Sunday, I had the privilege of sitting and listening to a brother in Christ give his testimony. He appeared relaxed before he spoke but was clearly nervous as he spoke. But, he did not need to be nervous. His testimony is a beautiful masterpiece displaying the amazing work of God’s love, grace & mercy working in tandem.
Some fellow believers might say that some backgrounds are worse than others but we all need God’s salvation. Untrue! Every sin we commit is equal in our betrayal against God. Every sin might have a different consequence on this earth but no sin has a different consequence in eternity. And, that is what matters most.
"My father sought the Truth, and died without finding it.
Oh why did you not come sooner?" – Mr. Ni.
Mr. Ni was a Buddhist in the 1800’s. He made this statement and asked this question to James Hudson Taylor, missionary to China. This is the moment when Mr. Ni realized just how long Western countries have had the Gospel, compared to when it finally arrived in his community. My perception is that Mr. Ni, who did believe the Gospel, was grieving the fact that his father entered eternity never finding what he searched so diligently for because no one had come to his people sooner.
Spiritual Warfare! It is real. It is ugly. It can be very intense. It has causalities and requires that we love those Satan entices to attack and/or kill us. Remember, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s work and God’s people. These words are not a figure of speech, but literal.
When we, as disciples of Jesus, advance God’s Kingdom, we walk straight into a real war that is spiritually driven, not man made. It is the most important war a believer can enlist in because it is the war where we seek to proclaim the one single message that reconciles people to God.
Death. It is final. Many avoid talking about it because they fear it. It is in the news on a daily basis. A lot of people do everything they can to delay its arrival. But, inevitably death will arrive at each of our doorsteps. It will come knocking and there is nothing you or I can do about it.
This week, my sister-n-law Eunice passed away. It was unexpected and a total shock to the whole family. She has had health challenges over the past few years (stroke included) but none that we thought would take her life this past week. In fact, my family and I were on the road driving to visit Eunice and my father/mother-n-law for a few weeks when we got word of her sudden critical state and ultimate passing. What made this ever more difficult is that we were only one hour from arriving to see her and my parents-in-laws. Even my wife’s brother and his wife were in the air traveling to visit them/us for the next week as well. Yet, our planned time as a family took the one turn we would all love to reverse but cannot.
Steve Schirmer, President of Silk Road Catalyst and co-Host of Missions Talk. Least Reached Advocate. Dedicated to No Place Left.