Nik Ripken, author of Insanity of God, was our guest on Missions Talk yesterday. He said something very intriguing that immediately caught my attention because I have never heard anyone say this before nor have I thought it. Nik said:
This is powerful! Think about it further. After 2,000 years, the Great Commission remains unfinished. Over 2 billion people live beyond the reach of the Gospel and that number is growing annually. Out of 7000 languages, less than 700 have the whole bible and only about 2400 have the New Testament. That leaves a lot of languages without Scripture. These realities are the fault of the body of Christ and no one else because we have had plenty of time and there are plenty of resources and manpower to have already completed this task.
While many Christians are engaged in global missions, there is clearly not enough involved. Otherwise, those realities I just mentioned would be different. But, they are not. Jesus did not die for the American Dream, promise the American Dream or ordain that we pursue the American Dream. He died and was resurrected so that we can be reconciled to God to worship Him alone and so we could take His incredible news of redemption to all peoples in all places, even to our enemies.
This journey is dangerous. It will require suffering and, for some, their very lives. Spouses and children of disciple-makers will also get caught in the crosshairs of persecution. This is not something I’m shouting from the mountaintops as if I’m thrilled at the prospect. But, to avoid this reality that can easily come with following Jesus is to stop following Him.
Jesus told his followers, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” and also “No one is greater than his Master”. Jesus suffered and therefore we should expect some level of suffering for the name of Jesus. They inevitably go hand in hand. In fact, God has ordained a certain number of Christians (not all) to be martyred for Jesus’ name (see Revelation 6:11). We have no control over who they are, where it will happen or when. For us Westerners, we cannot count ourselves out of this number. Just because we are from the West does not guarantee that we get to avoid suffering.
The two greatest commandments are (in this order) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength then to love others as we love ourselves. If we are not sharing the Gospel with those around us and making disciples so they too can spend eternity with God, we are not loving others as we love ourselves nor are we loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. To live out the Greatest Commandments requires that we fulfill the Great Commission simultaneously. Otherwise, we live in disobedience and should repent.
Jesus said, as recorded in John 14:15, “If you love me, do what I command” or in my own words, “Talk is cheap! Actions speak louder than words!”. This is fairly straightforward. None of us may be perfect at obedience but we are still called to pursue it and help each other obtain it.
As I close, I leave you with these questions. Is Jesus worth all the suffering you may have to endure for His glory? Is Jesus worth your very life? Is Jesus worth the lives of your family? Is Jesus worth taking the Gospel to your enemies? Is Jesus worth it?
Steve Schirmer, President of Silk Road Catalyst and co-Host of Missions Talk. Least Reached Advocate. Dedicated to No Place Left.