‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18, 20)
Everything that is healthy in this world relates to something beyond itself; what is concerned only for itself ultimately dies. A doctor sees this in the human body, where a cell that cares only for itself becomes cancerous, and its very attempts to survive kill the whole body. A pastor sees this in human lives, where people who think only of themselves become the most unhappy of people. What cares only for itself, dies; what looks beyond itself, lives.
The same is true for the church. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gave his disciples both a command and a promise: the command was to go into the world and make disciples; the promise was that, as they did so, he would be with them. The church in Jerusalem found that difficult, struggling to look beyond itself and its narrow horizons. As a result, it was ultimately sidelined in God’s bigger plan, while the church at Antioch looked beyond itself and became one of the most significant churches in the early centuries of church history.
Sometimes we forget that Jesus’ promise to be with us was not a promise for ‘staying’ but a promise for ‘going’. It is as we go and put our faith to the test that we experience his promises in ways that we could never do by simply sitting at home. It was as those first disciples responded to his promise to send them out as witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8), that they experienced his presence and power in amazing ways and with amazing results.
God wants us to ‘look out’ not ‘look in’. This is a time, not for endless spiritual navel-gazing, but for ‘going’, knowing that as we do, he will surely be with us. Today, as you ‘go’, claim his promise that he will be with you.
‘I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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