When Jesus gave his Final Command (Matthew 28:19-20) on a mountain top to eleven tired, partly-doubting deer-in-the-light disciples who were probably pinching themselves at His sight, Jesus enunciated their on-going work as that of ‘making disciples of all nations.’ This was to encompass all peoples and all times and so necessitated becoming the on-going task and focus of the Church called to walk on in the footsteps of those first Apostles.
The book of Acts, the sequel to the Gospel narratives, shows that the graduating class of disciples took Jesus’ final command seriously. They made the being and making of disciples the core concern, activity and thrust of their communal church life. Sure, they needed persecution to get them going on to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 8:1), but once those disciples of the original few got going, the Church became intentionally missionary for centuries. So much so that all twelve Apostles also left Jerusalem – church tradition has it that they all died outside of Israel.
How far have we come from those halcyon days when the world was turned upside down by missionary disciples of Jesus who shared the Gospel everywhere they went?
Tragically, in many places in the world, the witness of the church is placid, confused, compromised or dead. Cultural Christianity is the lethal order of the day. Sunday Christians whose behavior and desires on a Tuesday afternoon are no different from their un-believing colleagues at the office, or who don’t know and don’t care about their neighbors.
As Francis Chan laments, “(S)omehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense?”
Agreeing, the late Dallas Willard wrote: “The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”
Therefore, in NAMS, a crucial question we ask of people who want to join us is: ‘Are you in a Great Commission Cell?’ (i.e. are you already making disciples or earnestly desiring to do so?). If so, we would love to work with you.
For this, we are certain of, is THE primary business of the Church: to join God in His mission to transform people, their families and communities, one disciple made at a time.
Who will follow you as you follow Christ this year?