Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV): Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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.”
Mark 16:15 (NIV): "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.' "
True confession time. These are not my favorite passages in the Bible. They have been used many, many times to tell me that I am supposed to go to other countries and try to "convert" people, "win" them to Jesus. Up until a few years ago, I read these passages and got very cynical. And then I read them again. This time the word "go" jumped off the page and the passages took on a whole new meaning.
When I read the passages as "go" that means that I need to do something. I don't get to just sit inside my little Christian bubble and expect people to come to me to find Jesus. I have to go somewhere. This version puts the words "far and near" in there, which is an important distinction to me as well. Not everyone hears the call of God to go to other countries to share the love of Jesus, some people are called by God to, well, go next door to the neighbors for coffee, to stop by their co-workers cubicle to chat for a few minutes, to sit down in a Barber's chair and talk to the person cutting their hair. To me, "go" means that I have to leave my comfort zone and enter into the world. I have to go somewhere.
The other day I was having a conversation with someone who basically said that they were struggling with leaving their current job to pursue something else because their current job was "Christian" and the other job was not. If they left their job, where people came to find Jesus, for another job then they wouldn't be able to help people walk with God. It took a lot of work to keep myself calm. I know I paused and counted to 10 before saying anything. To me, there is something inherently wrong with that logic. Just like the logic that says we can't be friends with anyone who isn't Christian. It seems like we're missing the point of the so-called Great Commission(s). We have to be willing to actually go into the world to make a difference in the world. We have to relate to people, those who know Christ and those who don't, to be able to have an impact. If all I have are Christian friends, I'm not getting the job done. If I only work in the Christian bubble of churches, camps, non-profits, para-church organizations, etc, then what difference am I truly making in the world? We can't just sit in our comfortable Christian bubble and expect to make a difference in the world. We have to go.
Typing all of this out, I know that I don't even live up to my own words. I am completely comfortable in the Christian bubble of my creation. It's hard to go into the world and face opposition to my beliefs and morals. Yet, then again, I am also called to be me in the world, not someone else. So I go and I live out my faith. I say yes to things that I am comfortable with and no to things that I'm not. I am true to who God has called me to be and not always to what the world says I am supposed to be.
I'm still not a fan of the way these passages are used in many Christian circles, but I am beginning to get it...in order to share Jesus we've got to go to the world...not expect them to come to us.