Commission and commands – Priorities for the Church

When thinking of the mission of the church, many will take the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) as a starting point. In that commission, Jesus tells us to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. It is succinct and speaks directly to the issue. This is a good launch point for the mission of the church.

But this mission must be evaluated against something that Jesus said earlier in his ministry as being foundational. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus tells us that the two Great Commands are to love God and love your neighbor. He further states that “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Disciples have to be made by people who first love God with their entire beings. The disciple making process cannot be our first love. “Soul winning” results cannot be our first love. Being in connection with people cannot be our first love. Disciple makers must first and foremost be those who love God.

Secondly, disciples are made by people who love people unconditionally. Not with a mushy anything-goes love, but with a dynamic (root meaning – powerful) love that draws people into relationship and makes them better.

Since these are the two Great Commands, since Jesus tells us that upon these commands all of Scripture depends, then I doubt that they can be over emphasized. I do not think that we can talk about them too much.

Disciples are not made by methods. Sure there are programs that have helped people explain their faith better. There is nothing wrong with being organized or using tools such as the wordless book. But we must remember that the tools and the programs do not bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Followers of Jesus Christ bring people into relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus does the saving, the believers make the introduction.

If you have seen my avatar on this blog or on a social network, you will immediately see that I am bald. If I let my hair grow out I would have an inverse Mohawk, a little on the sides and nothing on top. If I knocked on your door selling hair restoration oil, would you buy it from me? No, wisdom would dictate that you would not buy it since it is obviously not working.

In the same way, if we are not living out the two commands to love God and love our neighbors then why should anyone listen to our Gospel presentation? It is only when we live it out that it can be seen as good news.

I sometimes wonder if we did a better job of living out the two Great Commands, would we need to do altar calls? Would we need to sing one more verse of “Just as I Am” to let a few more come forward?

I know I’m being a little bit snarky here, but I’m trying to make a point. We sometimes put the cart before the horse. We work so hard at bringing people into the Kingdom only to have them find it a little bit run down when they arrive. We haven’t always maintained our first and most important love.

Lee Iacocca said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Evangelism isn’t the main thing, Jesus is. We need to keep our priorities straight.