April 30 I Thursday
1 Kings 8-9
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20
We are wise to develop our devotion to God and join Christian communities, but if this is all we engage in, our effectiveness as believers will be stunted. Without an evangelistic aspect, the things we do to help ourselves and fellow believers grow in Christ will start to feel ritualistic. A healthy church understands that personal devotion and joining a Christian community must be complemented by compassion for and co-mission to the world.
Compassion is not a natural human reaction. Because of our sinful natures, our tendency is to lean towards our own needs, whether physical or spiritual, before looking to the interests of others. But as a group of people transformed by the gospel, the church is to be a visible expression of God’s compassion.
If we were to read the history of all the major soup kitchens and world relief organizations across the globe, we might be surprised by how many of them began with Christian roots. Men and women who have had their lives transformed by Christ found themselves motivated by an unquenchable desire to serve the poor,
the afflicted, the lonely and neglected. Belief in the gospel placed the compassion of God in their hearts, which we also experience when we feel led to spend our time, energy and money to help those in need.
However, the church’s greater calling is to share the gospel throughout the world so everyone may know God’s love and forgiveness. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commanded His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
We call these verses, “the Great Commission”, but a better term might be “the Great Co-mission”. God does not make us fend for ourselves when we minister to others but invites us to join Him where He is already at work. We go under His authority, with His abiding presence and in His strength. This co-mission is not a suggestion, but a command. As Oswald Smith once said, “Any church that neglects the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.”
Personal spiritual growth fuels outreach and outreach keeps our Christian lives from growing mundane and routine-like. Rather than separating spiritual development with others from the church, we are at our strongest spiritually, emotionally and physically when we engage in both individual and communal ministry as the Spirit leads and directs us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, wherever You place me, may my words and actions reflect Your loving, compassionate heart to those around me. Thank You, Lord.