After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples several times. For their final interaction, Jesus directed the eleven remaining disciples to meet him on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16). It was here that Jesus gave them their final instructions. These instructions have come to be known as the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
Most of us know these words well. Most of us know that they apply to us. Most of us understand that we are supposed to be part of spreading the Gospel to those around us. Most of us struggle to do so. Why is that? There are several reasons, but I want to focus primarily on one.
Do you have big projects in your life that never get done? These are often projects that seem like they will just take too much time and too much energy. If you just started taking one step at a time, you would get the job done, but you never take that first step. You are overwhelmed at the thought of all that has to get done, and so you do nothing.
Similarly, I believe one reason we struggle to witness is that we are overwhelmed. We are surrounded by people who need help. We are surrounded by people who are hurting. We are surrounded by people who need Jesus, and we don’t know where to start.
Have you ever heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is one bite at a time. Sometimes we look at the whole elephant and think that we are somehow supposed to swallow the whole thing.
Jesus understood that spreading the Gospel around the world was not going to happen immediately. Instead it would be a process. He told His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They would spread the Gospel close to home and then spread out further from there.
Here at United Lutheran, where can we start? I want to encourage you to take some small bites out of the elephant. Could you simply begin by praying? I’m asking you to pray for two people each day. First, choose one church member (or family) that doesn’t come to church very often. Pray that God would show them the value of church attendance. They need to grow in God’s Word together with their church family.
Secondly, pray for one person (or family) from our community who doesn’t know Jesus. Pray that God would bring people into their lives to share His Word with them. Pray that God would show them their sin and their need for a Savior.
As we bring these people to God in prayer, I believe that some of the other reasons we don’t witness for Christ will also be taken care of. As we pray, God will give us a greater love and concern for those people. He will give us a desire to speak to those people about Him.
He will also remind us that we can’t do it on our own. It is interesting that Jesus did not tell His disciples to start sharing the Gospel as soon as possible. Instead, He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. It was not their power, but the Holy Spirit’s power which would make them effective missionaries for Christ. That same Holy Spirit is at work within you. You never go alone. You never have a conversation alone. Jesus’ promises, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”