Jesus’ final words to his disciples, recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, was granting them authority to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, and teach them the ways of God.
Traditionally, this text is understood as the Great Commission. It stands as a witness to the resurrected Christ. The purposes of God begun in Jesus’ ministry are carried on by the disciples. This text is one of the twelve scripture texts that I am selecting for my own leadership formation.
On the farm house front porch of my great uncle Jonas L. Kratz, I learned in my young adult years that “Christianity is always one generation from extinction.” It was impressed upon me by this Bible teacher that my role was to tell other people about my faith in order to be a witness of God’s love.
Equally, important was the emphasis upon the community of faith that was supposed to train and nurture followers of Jesus. The collective witness of the community of faith was as important as the making of disciples.
In the beginning of this New Year as we envision the future, I want to encourage us to make as our number one priority the making of disciples. How you go about this endeavor is really left to your creativity and the Spirit of Christ that guides your life.
This challenge enables us to call youth and young adults to embrace the way of Christ. It gives us opportunity to be a witness of Christ’s empowering love in the grocery store, at work, and at the ball game! It enables us to reach across ethnic barriers as well as religious differences, because we are always engaged in the way of Christ. We may even discover that in our witness to others, we become a different type of disciple!
Let us not lose hope in this time of turbulence and uncertainty. But let us, like Jesus’ first disciples, proclaim the reign of God where ever we go. May God’s overwhelming presence be our source of comfort and joy as we call people to a new type of faith experience – being a follower of Jesus for the twenty-first century!