Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can you recite the Great Commission?

Try reciting the Great Commission from memory (Mt 28:19-20).

Most people (including us) typically omit one key phrase in it. (Probably 90% of the Christians we ask get it wrong). If you do, it radically alters the meaning and has leads churches astray, giving a false understanding of "discipleship". In verse 28:20, Jesus says that we are to teach them to obey all that I have commanded you." By contrast, let me quote one of the largest churches in America. On their website I literally cut and pasted this quote in their mission statement referencing the Great Commission: To "Teach them...all things" is "Discipleship." Notice the omission! Someone may say...this is just semantics. Wrong--think about these sentences, "Teach the workers to follow all the different kinds of procedures" or "Teach them to drive all the company vehicles" If we omit the key phrases, "to follow" and "to drive", we get different meanings. We don't want our nuclear scientists to merely know about the procedures but how to ENACT them. We don't merely want to know about the various kinds of cars. We want to drive them!

Consequently, in the churches, people miss this phrase and change (not simply reduce) "discipleship" to something it's not. This is what the Pharisees may have called discipleship...learning a lot and judging maturity by knowing "all the commands". Unfortunately for them and for us, Jesus says in John 15:14 and 14:15 that if we don't obey then we are neither his friends nor his disciples. Tough word. How many of us would stay at a church that emphasized this the way Jesus did, or actually quoted the Great Commission accurately? Many people would call such preaching "legalistic". If so, then Jesus has a "legalism" problem. Perhaps we then too need this problem.

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