The God Who Recommissions
When we look at the Great Commission, we can sometimes feel very overwhelmed. After all, another word for commission is “directive.” The Lord is giving us a directive to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15) and “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” He declares in John 20:19, and He says we are to be “His witnesses” in Acts 1:8. The Bible leaves no doubt that we’ve been commissioned. However, many of us aren’t sharing our faith because we have some misunderstandings that need to be corrected about obeying the commission.
God does all the heavy lifting
It’s not uncommon for people to attend one of our evangelism trainings expecting to endure a guilt trip before we equip them. They’re ready to hear about how God, the task master, is threatening them to “share the gospel or else!”
What an amazing privilege I have to share the truth about the God who commissions us! He is not a God barking commands from far off, but instead He is revealed in Scripture as the God who goes before, with, and after us as we seek to obey the Great Commission. In fact, on this co-mission, He is the One doing all the heavy lifting! While I have a simple message to share, it is only God who can convict people of their sin; it is only God who can change a heart of stone to a heart of flesh; it is only God who moves people from death to life. I don’t bear the burden of changing anyone because I don’t even have the ability to do so. And the news gets better.
God not only does all the work, He also recommissions us in love when we falter in obeying the commission. Let me share a few examples from Scripture.
God recommissions us when we say “no way”
One way we falter in following the Great Commission is that we effectively say, “no way.” We do this by putting off the task of evangelism or simply shifting the responsibility to pastors, evangelists, missionaries, etc. Even though the Bible is clear that the Great Commission is for all and is about obedience not occupation, we simply find a way to say “nope.” Jonah can relate.
When God commissions Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent, Jonah says “no way” by going 180 degrees in the other direction, running from God. In Jonah’s mind, God can find someone else for this. He is not the one. But what does God do? Does He abandon Jonah? Wipe him off the face of the earth? Curse him for life? No. Instead, God reclaims Jonah in the coolest of ways and then simply recommissions him to go to Nineveh. Don’t miss this. God, in His patience and mercy, recommissions Jonah to go and tell Nineveh a message. This time, Jonah obeys, shares a simple message, and then God – as we just talked about – does all the heavy lifting and brings about a great revival!
Have you said “no way” to God for so long that you think God can’t use someone like you? You’re wrong. He is right there standing ready to recommission you in His patience and mercy. He wants to share His message of salvation through you.
God recommissions us when we “hideaway”
Another way we falter in obeying the Great Commission is that we shy or hide away from opportunities to share the gospel. Sometimes this means we simply don’t let others know we’re Christians. Other times, it means that when conversations shift toward religion, we quickly change the subject instead of leaning into our beliefs about Jesus. However it pans out, we simply find a way to step away from conversations about Jesus. Peter can sympathize with us in this respect.
Peter is commissioned to follow Jesus and share about the Kingdom of God along with the other 12 disciples. He seems more than up to the task and even tells Jesus at one “Where else will we go?” When asked if he would leave Jesus’ side. But then the infamous moment happens when Jesus is arrested and Peter denies Him three times (Matthew 26). The critical part of the story is what Jesus does in His final encounter with Peter before ascending to the Father.
In John 21, we find Jesus talking with Peter along the shoreline, and here is what Jesus doesn’t do: Jesus doesn’t send Peter on his way and tell him, “You denied me! I can’t use disciples who struggle in their faith. You no longer have a part in this ministry!” Instead, Jesus restores Peter and recommissions him to “Follow Me!” (v19). Peter, along with the other disciples, simply obeys, and God does all the heavy lifting by adding people to His church through their message as we see in Acts 1-2.
Have you avoided talking about God or shied away from opportunities so many times that you feel God wouldn’t want to use someone like you? You are wrong. Just as with Peter, God stands ready to recommission you. He simply desires your obedience to share the amazing truth of Jesus with others. He will do all the heavy lifting and change hearts in His perfect sovereignty.
God recommissions us when we say “my way”
Yet another way we falter in following the Great Commission is that we try to do it “my way.” God has made it clear that we are to share His message with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). The Holy Spirit who is working through us in evangelism perfectly embodies love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). However, sometimes we wrap gospel truths in messages of anger, harsh words, and wrathful comments. We let everyone know God hates sin, but completely avoid the fact that He came to save sinners. The story of Moses deals with the danger of anger in an interesting way.
In Acts 7 we find Stephen telling us a part of Moses’ story that can often be overlooked. He tells us that Moses had an idea that he was to be the deliverer of his people. But how he went about it was all wrong. In Acts 7:25 Stephen tells us that in anger, Moses strikes down an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and that “he assumed his brothers would understand that God would give them deliverance through him.” It goes on to say, “They did not understand.” Moses then ran away for 40 years.
When God encountered Moses again, He didn’t bring a message of judgment or condemnation. Instead, He recommissioned Moses to deliver a simple message to Pharaoh – “let My people go.” After a bit of reluctance, Moses obeys, and just like we saw with Jonah and Peter, God does all the heavy lifting. God is the One who delivers His people; God is the One who brings about the plagues; God is the One who causes the Egyptians to surrender their possessions; God is the One who splits the Red Sea. Moses simply obeyed.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation where you think God can’t use you because you’ve been overly harsh in the past or haven’t been “a patient person,” you are wrong. God stands ready to recommission. He desires to use you to share His gospel. He desires all of us Christians to be on mission for Him.
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