The mission of the people called Nazarenes is "to make Christlike disciples in the nations." In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus 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. (emphasis added)
As a church family we have taken these words seriously, carrying the message of our Lord into 151 nations of the world. A missional heart is embedded in the DNA of our church. "Therefore, go . . ." Jesus said, and we have been very much on the go!
But let's hear Jesus' words as we find them in Young's Literal Translation:
Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth - having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them - to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days-till the full end of the age. (emphasis added)
Suppose we begin to hear these familiar words in an unfamiliar way. Instead of "Therefore go . . . " what if we begin to hear "having gone, then . . ." make disciples? The new emphasis is to be placed not so much on the going but on the having gone. Another way to think of this might be "in your going" - in your going, make disciples!
The call to make disciples is not limited to missionaries who go or to evangelists who go or to pastors who go. The call to make disciples is to all of us who are so often caught up in our excessive going.
Making disciples is not just Sunday work or a night set aside for soul winning.
We - all of us - are called to make disciples in our going, wherever we are and whatever else we may be doing. Can we grasp onto this truth and learn to think differently about ourselves?
We are not teachers, clerks, students, attorneys, doctors, truck drivers, parents, neighbors, or whatever other roles we may fill, who just happen to be Christians. Rather we are Christians (disciples and disciple makers) who just happen to be teachers, clerks, students, doctors, truck drivers, parents, neighbors, or whatever.
We are Christians first - disciples called to make disciples!
Therefore, our primary focus is the work of our Lord - to make disciples in the nations. No matter where we work or play or study, we are called to make disciples.
This truth came home to me one day when my telephone rang and the voice on the other end asked, "Are you the pastor of College Church of the Nazarene?" "I am," I replied. "Does a woman named Maria* attend your church?" she asked. "She does," I answered, bracing myself for what might be coming next. "Could you tell me what you people believe?" she asked. "I work with her, and if what you believe makes this type of person, I want to know about it."
The woman who attended our church understood her mission. In her going, she set her goal to make disciples through redemptive relationships and loving acts of kindness.
Making Christlike disciples in the nations begins at home, in your going!
What person has God placed on your heart to focus on especially? Build a redemptive relationship with that person. Communicate the goodness of God through your words and deeds. Be ready to supply answers to someone seeking Him. Invite, welcome, and nurture a friend in a small group or a worship service at your church. The Holy Spirit will work in you to fulfill our Lord's mission through you.
J. K. Warrick is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene*
*Holiness Today, July/August 2007