Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Commission

In the gospels Jesus gives the great commission, instructing us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). In the book of Acts Jesus instructs the disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria (Acts 1:8).

Today I heard several prayer requests for people who are struggling with life-threatening illnesses. My question was, "Are these people going to heaven; do they know God?"

We tend to get caught up in our physical needs: food, health, mortgage. But what about our spiritual needs? That is not to say that physical needs are not important, but what does it matter if our health is good and we do not have a personal relationship with God to strengthen us spiritually? Or if we have water now but will thirst forever in hell?

This got me to thinking about the great commission and what it means to me. The disciples were told to witness in Jerusalem and Judea because that was where they were. If we take the verses to heart for ourselves we need simply change the location in order to fit them into our own lives.

We should be witnessing about God on the freeway, to our neighbors, and to our friends. God is sending us out to be His witnesses in Omaha, Nebraska, and the United States. We do not have to be missionaries to preach the word of God. In fact, we do not even have to talk to people about God.

Sometimes the most effective witness comes in the form of a kind word or deed. Sometimes all God requires from us is prayer for another person.

Those of us that engage in e-mail forwarding have read many stories of people whose lives were changed by an act of kindness from a stranger, or by the incessant prayers of a relative. These stories should do more than warm our hearts, they should inspire us to action.

The first commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, but the second is to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:30-31). What better way to show our love for God than by acting in love towards our neighbors?

I challenge you to make a focused effort this next week to show God's love to the people around you. Ask God to send you someone who needs help. Pray daily for someone who does not know God. Pray for your pastor and your church. We may not be missionaries or evangelists, but we can impact lives for Christ nonetheless.

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