Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 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."
I hate this thing.
That makes me a bad church planter, I know, but whatever. I mean, don't get me wrong, it isn't that I disagree or thing it is wrong, or unnecessarily popular or something. I hate it because it is in the bible, is the last command given in the gospels (though, if one takes Luke/Acts as one book, than perhaps there are two later sentences he gives) and because we have to pay attention to it.
It drives me crazy because I have this nagging voice, constantly, telling me about the great commission. If I could rewrite the gospels (which we all do enough, ignoring what I don't like and over emphasizing the things we already agree with) I think I would drop the great commission first. It is so obnoxious, so simple (sort of) in what it calls Jesus people to do. Anybody who connects to any kind of Jesus movement (from conservative Christendom to the Jesus People on the 60s) is called to listen to the great commission. No group I have ever run into that does not fall out of acceptance of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan family can (validly) set aside the Great Commission.
As I see it, there are a few major parts to the great commission:
At the core of the great commission is a call to get the hell out of your comfort zone. It begins with "GO!" Its a command, a requirement, not a suggestion. It means that, at the beginning of following the great command is the need to leave wherever you are, wherever you find yourself, and go find yourself elsewhere. It means that one has to start the great commission with one foot in front of the next. This does not necessarily mean a geographical move, but a move of some sort.
Jesus movements, people who love Jesus, are contagious, like a virus. Somebody infected with Jesus and in love with Jesus will infect others. But it is more than just saying "REPENT, SINNER!" It is walking with somebody through life, learning from Jesus, from the gospels, from the words of the Word and the palpitations of the Holy Spirit.
Do it. Don't not do it. When you finish, you aren't finished.
Praying the "sinner's prayer" just don't cut it. We are also required to teach what we have learned from Jesus, not only the words but the actions of Jesus. Teaching takes time, teaching takes significant relationship, teaching also requires the teacher to know the subject, and when the subject is Jesus, that is a life time of study.
I find it fascinating that Jesus' final concern is that those who follow him do not keep it to themselves, do not lock themselves away. Rather, Jesus' final concern is that the teachings of Jesus go into the world, from this little piddly back-water called Israel into the whole world.
This crap is hard.
Why couldn't it have ended "Therefore, hang out with like minded people and lock yourselves away from people who are different."
That would have been much preferable.
But it probably wouldn't have changed human history much, would it?