Good Morning Faithful Family of God.
Today’s discipline is to be mindful of being the one who shows another the way of Jesus.
The gospel of Matthew ends with the resurrected Jesus’ Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples. Jesus doesn’t say you need to be ordained or be given a title before you do this work. Rather, put on your tennis shoes and “Just do it!”
For fuel you have the Great Commandment–to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Which means love leads the way.
While courage is needed, you do not have to do things that are not aligned with your soul’s gifts. God loves you and knows what you can do. Simply look up and see what people God has put into your life, be mindful of your speech, reach out through your heart. Start to teach with your words and your actions about a God so big as to move mountains and so particular as to see you and the one you walk with this day.
In God’s Love,
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It isn’t what I would expect. And, maybe it isn’t exactly what I would want.
At the end of the gospel of Matthew the risen Jesus, in whom all authority in heaven and earth had been given, commissions the disciples to “make disciples of all nations; to baptize; to teach.”
The Great Commission both seems too small and too big a thing in a complicated and broken world.
What about the power to perform miracles? The earth continues to moan under human conflict and the growing needs of her population. Or the power to heal? Oh, I would love to put a hand on some of our diabetics and suddenly the kidneys are working on full power again. Or even the power to walk on water—now that at least would be fun.
The commission is to convince people of the truth found in following Jesus Christ, to baptize and to disciple them in the ways of Christ.
As you read through the gospel of Matthew there is a whole lot of teaching going on. Jesus is the rabbi who sits with his disciples and shows them a whole other way of following God. Picture the sermon on the mount, where he stands, and gives a lecture to the crowd who has gathered on the hill.
For a small church like ours, it seems impossible to gather such a crowd, especially in this day and age, when the name of Jesus either gets people reveling about their own faith or sends someone running for the door.
I was at a gathering with my fit fam the other day. Our fit family is led by a woman who, having church in her background, knows how to create a spirit-led community. At the gathering, she started to dance and 8 of the women got up and started dancing with her. Well, a woman who is new to the group who included in her introduction of herself what church she attended felt the spirit in the room. It felt like church! She said so and then she asked if she could pray.
The fitness group that includes a Jew, a Muslim, and an atheist (which sounds like the beginning of a bad joke) said “no!”
There followed a conversation about coming together around the discipline of fitness, not around one faith.
As I think about this great commission to make disciples of all nations, to baptize and to teach, in order for me to be able to stay in the room, I have to put it into the context of the great commandment. Jesus said that all the commandments hang on the one.
Here is the scripture: Matthew 22
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Thankfully I don’t have to know the over 600 laws for Israel!
This one can be summarized as a simple three loves:
Okay, let’s mix together the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Love will lead us to those who we are called to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach.
William Bausch includes in his “World of Stories” book one by Paul Villard called “Information Please.” Villard tells of a time when he could call information and talk to a person. Set in the early days of telephones and a small town, he shares:
“I discovered that somewhere inside that wonderful device lived an amazing person: her name was ‘Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know….
My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-receiver came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn’t seem to be much use crying because there was no one home to offer sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver and held it to my ear. “Information Please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.
A click or two, and a small, clear voice spoke into my ear. “Information.”
“I hurt my fingerrrrr—” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough, now that I had an audience.
“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.
“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.
“Are you bleeding?”
“No,” I replied. “I hit it with the hammer and it hurts.”
“Can you open your icebox?” she asked. I said I could.
“Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it on your finger. That will stop the hurt. Be careful when you use the ice pick,” she admonished. “And don’t cry. You’ll be all right.”
After that, I called Information Please for everything. His story reminds me that, when God is involved, the people who we can best help show up. Those of us who love God, trust God. When we trust God good things appear; our assignment becomes clear.
You know it is of God when it doesn’t feel like work…when “I have to” becomes “I get to.” Now there’s often work involved and sometimes it is hard work…but the inner impulse when imagining what you are working for…is …. Yes! I get to do that!
I see the Almighty as a matchmaker, matching your gifts to the needs of the world. Like God did with “Information Please.”
The boy in our story grows up as all young boys do. And on his way to college, he had a short layover in his hometown. He decided to call “Information Please.” Villard writes…
From ‘A True Story” by Paul Villard (https://www.telephonetribute.com/a_true_story.html)
“Miraculously, I heard again the small, clear voice I knew so well: ‘Information.’ I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying ‘Could you tell me, please, how to spell the word ‘fix’?”
There was a long pause. Then came the softly spoken answer.
‘I guess,’ said Information Please, ‘that your finger must have healed by now.’
I laughed. ‘So it’s really still you. I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during all that time.’
‘I wonder,’ she replied, ‘if you know how much you meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls.’
Notice the words Vilard uses in the telling of his story. Miraculously…I heard myself saying…a long pause…I wonder…look forward to….
These are Spirit words. Miracles happen when the Spirit is involved. You start speaking without knowing what you will say when Spirit is involved. You pause…when Spirit is involved. You wonder you look forward to when…Spirit is involved. Jesus’ commandment to love neighbor gets so abused as to make us try to do what we are not capable of…loving everyone in the whole entire world. Or the commission to make disciples of all nations can be misinterpreted that our impact must be felt worldwide.
But there are many of us who choose to follow Jesus, even now. You don’t have to do it all yourself. God knows whose on His team…and to the question of other religions, well it makes sense that there are other teams helping to create multiple paths that lead souls to the Eternal One.
Let them do their job and you do yours.
I urge you to consider that love of God, neighbor, and self all arrive together when you are given your assignment.
No God assignment is going to take away from your ability to support yourself or care for yourself. So “no” you do not have to give money to everyone who asks.
God doesn’t shame you into action. So don’t act because you feel ashamed.
Finally, God wants your love, not your resentment. If it feels forced it isn’t of God.
Look for the opportunities that feel like a gift from God.
I remember when I first came here to NLBCC. It didn’t feel like a choice as much as a “here you go” kind of opportunity. You were an answer to prayer.
So many good things have happened on the way…Praise Rallys, conversations with those of you who fought for the sacredness of sexuality, basketball games, and being part of the conversations around race and poverty, and respect.
When God makes the match, good things happen. God brings you to where you can make disciples. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Remember this and pause long enough to realize it is God who brings you here. Let your heart connect to the Eternal One’s love. When you are discipling, listen soulfully to the one God has put before you. Let the other’s words have time to go deep enough for you to hear the truer question and then give an answer that speaks to the soul of the one who is asking.
You’ve been given the authority to teach this one. You have the goods.
While I’d love it if all your friends found their way to church and we grew exponentially; if we did, I’d need to line up a bunch of small groups because discipleship doesn’t happen without one on one engagement. I give you permission to not start with “come to church.” Rather, go into the world and make disciples wherever you have been placed. You have the authority without me putting a stole on your neck or anointing you an apostle. You have the authority to share your faith just because you are a disciple if you do so with God’s leading.
I truly believe if you take your call seriously, church growth will happen. Because as people come to know God through you, they want more. So, don’t sell the church, teach Jesus as only you can. I praise God for the many of you who have such different gifts.
You are anointed. You are disciples.
Go into the world as baptized people teaching about the life-saving work of Jesus Christ. Go where you feel alive, go where you can give life. And God’s name shall be praised!