Mission. Evangelism. Sharing your faith. These are words that are often used in the Christian faith but for many they carry a burden of guilt. It doesn’t surprise me. Often obedience to God is what is emphasised when there is teaching on mission. We have passages like The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) and it is taught that our job is to do what the Bible says. I don’t think that this is what is being intended but it leaves many feeling as though they are faced with an impossible task and therefore are left feeling guilty when they can’t achieve it. I once heard the story of a man telling his pastor that he was sick of hearing about evangelism every week. The pastor’s told him to just ignore it and only focus on his relationship with God and how much God loved him and not worry about anyone else. What a brilliant response.
The Great Commission needs to be put in context of the story of the Bible. When we isolate it there is the danger that it is reduced to obedience, but when it is placed immediately after the resurrection there is a change that happens. The emphasis of The Great Commission is that it is based on God’s ultimate act of redemption on the cross. It’s not so much obedience but rather a response to the life changing power of the cross. What happens when we meet Jesus at the cross is that we slowly but surely come to learn the heartbeat of God. This means viewing things the way that God does.
What is most evident in Jesus’ ministry is the way he treated people. His life was full of expressions of mercy, love and servanthood. The implication of this is that as our heart beats in line with God’s, the more our lives will reflect it. This means that mission has more to do with being like Jesus than memorising Two Ways to Live. Mission is all about knowing Jesus and becoming more like him. It means actively loving and serving in such a way that Jesus is made known.
The story of the Bible is God’s mission to seek people and redeem them. It can be seen everywhere. God seeks out Adam in Eden and, even though there are consequences to his sin, promises redemption. God chooses Abraham to build a people to show the world what he is like. Through Abraham he promises to bless the whole world which is ultimately seen in Jesus. God’s mission continues in the acts of the Apostles as they take the gospel into the world inviting both Jews and Gentiles to be part of God’s people. The Great Commission is not really about grudging obedience but the invitation to join with God’s mission.
This is why the pastor’s answer in the story is so good. According to this story, after a few weeks people asked the pastor what he had said to the man as this guy was now unable to stop talking about Jesus. When the idea of sharing your faith with others just makes you feel guilty maybe it’s time to stop and look at Jesus. Maybe we need to find out again how much he loves us. Maybe we need to see how he treats others. Maybe we need to see the mission that he is on in redeeming people. Maybe we need to be more like Jesus. Maybe we need to show people love and mercy and start serving people.