One of the things that has been most on my mind is the mission of the church. Most Assemblies of God people are very focused on the preaching mission of the church. I like this part and I think it is very important, but I think it misses the point. The lectionary reading that most protestant churches did this week was the story of the sheep and the goats from Matthew’s gospel. Now, that story makes it clear that the way we will be judged on the final days has little to do with what we think and alot to do with how we treat others. I guess I need to learn a new way to live.
What does this mean for the church? To investigate, I will look at the Great Commission for a moment. Matthew 28:19-20 gives us our “marching orders.” This verse is often mistranslated where I come from. I have even heard some preachers joke about how the Greek word for “go” in this verse should be translated “go.” This is simply a failure to look at the text. Going, baptizing, and teaching are all participles. These are things that are done in order to accomplish the verb in the sentence: disciple (make disciples, NIV). Discipling is the point. In fact, I think I would even argue that “discipling all nations” is the point, but this nuance is the work of more able interpretors. In any case, I think the going is something that is just a part of life. As I walk through life, I encounter people who need discipling. I will baptize some of them into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. I will teach some of them about the things He has commanded me to do. In any case, these works shall disciple them. The point seems less about going, teaching, and baptizing as it is about discipling.
If disciple making is the point, then I think one of the ways I will fulfill that call is by living in the community and forming a community within the larger community that will give witness to God’s good work in the world. Now this seems pretty simple. This seems like what the church was always called to do. We are to live in the world, but differently from the world. How is this productive?
I think we would have to live it out to understand. If someone observed me giving all that I have above my basic needs to people who need it more than me…if they saw me finding a sense of purpose in this act of kindness…if they saw me truly finding pure joy in that moment…would they be changed. I don’t know. Would someone be changed by the witness you provide for the world? If someone observed your life, would they think “I wonder if that is what it was like in the Garden of Eden?” Would they think, “I bet that is what Heaven is like.” I hope so.