"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." -Matthew 10:39
This past Sunday, we commissioned three different mission teams who are leaving this week to serve in different places around the world. At Green Street, we want to be known as a people who take the Great Commission seriously. Our mission is to glorify God by making disciples here at home and among the nations. As we were comissioning those teams yesterday, I thought about how Jesus sent His disciples out in Matthew 10:5-42. He instructed them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They were to preach the good news of the kingdom. They were to minister to the needs of people in His name. Of course, not everyone would welcome their message. It was a mission that would not be easy. For this reason, Jesus tells them that the mission would demands at least five things.
1. The mission demands a God-honoring dependence.
"Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food." (10:9-10)
Instead of relying on their own strength or resources, Jesus tells His disciples that they were to fully depend upon the power of God. They were not to be anxious about what to speak or to say, but were to simply trust the Spirit of God to give what is needed. In this task of making disicples, the first thing we need to learn is this--we can't make a disciple any more than we can create a star. We need the power of the living Christ. The good news is that we have His presence with us, and He will empower us in the mission.
2. The mission demands a death-defying courage.
"So have no fear..." (10:26)
Fear of what people may say or do is one of the main reasons that many Christians fail to witness. Personal evangelism can be confrontational. When we feel prompted by the Lord to share the gospel with someone, our heart begins to beat fast and our palms may begin to sweat. Jesus tells His disiciples not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. They represented a much greater authority! When it comes to engaging in mission, we have no reason to be fearful because Jesus is with us.
3. The mission demands a Christ-confessing witness.
"So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven." (10:32-33)
Jesus says that He will openly acknowledge before the Father those who openly acknowledge Him before others. To be His witness means that we point others to Christ through both our words and our actions. Our gospel is not word only; it is authenticated through selfless works. But make no mistake, it does not stop there. It means that we intentionally go out of our way to use our words to communicate the truth of Christ.
4. The mission demands a risk-taking obedience.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (10:34)
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but that doesn't mean that His gospel isn't controversial. The only way that humanity can know peace is to be at peace with God, which is something that only Christ can do as a person repents and trusts in Him. To be obedient to Jesus does not mean an easy life. To be His disciple means you make enemies along the way. It means that people will oppose the message you preach. Even your own family will sometimes try to come between you and the mission. Yes, there are dangers and potential risks, but the reward of Christ is well worth it.
5. The mission demands an all-surrendering devotion to Christ.
"Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." (10:37)
Devotion to Jesus Christ means that nothing comes between you and Him. He is to occupy the supreme place of prominence in your life. Jesus says that those who love father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him. To follow Him demands that we take up the cross and go wherever He goes, no matter how difficult the way may be.
To be sure, such a mission would not be easy for the disciples, and neither will it be easy for us. The New Testament knows nothing about 'comfortable' Christianity that makes no demands upon a person's life. Comfortable Christianity doesn't really take the gospel seriously and doesn't cost a person anything. While the grace of God is free, that does not mean it is cheap. The mission of making disciples still demands no less than these five things: God-honoring dependence, death-defying courage, Christ-confessing witness, risk-taking obedience, and all-surrendering devotion.