unqualified and powerless for mission

When talk turns to evangelism and disciple-making, we sometimes hear statements like these:

  • I just don’t know if I can do it.
  • It’s not really my gift; evangelism is not one of my abilities.
  • That’s not something I can accomplish.
  • I don’t have the proper authority, do I?

I won’t argue with those who make these statements; I agree with them.  I think that’s probably why Jesus couches The Great Commission in the words he does (in bold):

Then Jesus came and said to them, “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.— Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus makes it very clear that our participation in mission is only possible because of our participation in him.

Making disciples is the work of Christ.  And success will only be by his authority, with his power, and because of his abilities.  You and I both are wholly unqualified to be missionaries and bringers of good news — except through our relationship with Christ.  

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus Christ, and it is by this authority that disciples are made.  It is also by this authority that Jesus has commissioned us to be workers and harvesters in his kingdom.

And perhaps some of the best news of all is that Jesus will be with us forever.  Mission will never be our endeavor.

We’ve done a great disservice to mission work everywhere by reading The Great Commission with Jesus’ opening and closing statements edited away.  Much harm has been done to Christianity because of this (false) belief that successful evangelism is somehow a result of the evangelist’s abilities.

I pray we can be unqualified and powerless, so Christ can accomplish his mission through us.

[This post is the second in a little series on The Great Commission.  The first post is here: worship (even when in doubt).]




Filed under evangelism, mission, musings on the Word

3 responses to “unqualified and powerless for mission

  1. Andrew

    Great post! Shared on Twitter & Facebook.

  2. Brett, no offense but when i read evangelism posts on Christian blogs I really have to laugh. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but in reality you guys make it too complex. It’s simple really…it’s very simple.

    If you want people to take notice you don’t even have to share the gospel, pull out a Bible, 4 Spiritual Laws, etc.. If you want people to take you seriosly the following might be helpful.

    1. Love, show mercy and grace to all people. Don’t be one of those Christians who make it their duty to find faults in others. Show grace, give it generously and don’t apply different standards. Don’t have Christians scoff and mock an atheist or agnostic. After showing compassion to someone dying of AIDS in Tanzania, is it possible to show that same type of love to a mid-life gay guy dying of AIDS in Washington, D.C.? This evening I was driving home and I was thinking about this Anthony Weiner scandal playing out in my backyard of DC. Here’s a perfect opportunity for Christians to show a guy who really fucked up his life, career, and maybe his family some grace and love. Will that happen? I don’t know. My gut tells me probably not, instead maybe Focus on the Family probably looks at this tragedy as a way to pick up a seat in the Congress. How sad… There are opportunities all around to show grace and love…why can’t Christians do that?
    2. Be humble and open. If a Christian was open about being an alcoholic and not hiding it I’d have a great amount of respect. Why do Christians have to present this perfect facade where it appears they have all their shit togther? All people have difficulties in life, why can’t Christians admit their problems? You do that and the world will take notice.
    3. Practice small gestures….befriend someone lonely in a nursing home, visit them. Help and get to know someone fighitng cancer make them meals or do grocery runs. Be invovled…too often Christians look at people outside their church as a prize, another feather in their cap. I can tell when I interact with Christians as to who will listen, who will be invovled long term and who will lack the patience to deal with an agnostic like me.

    If you guys did some of that, people will take notice. You guys will earn respect which Christianity in the United States is lacking and you might be surprised as to who you’ll build bridges with. Who knows after being burned by Christianity once before…if I encountered some of that maybe I’d give it a second try.

  3. Pingback: commission and discipleship | aliens and strangers

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