Giving us a command without also giving us the power to obey would make life frustrating, not abundant.
Completing tasks with excellence is one of the joys of life. We love it when we ace a test after studying like crazy or win a game after competing with all we have. We are envious when we watch an Olympic athlete win the gold after years of dedication. We love seeing hard work pay off.
God created us to do good works. And here’s the crazy thing: not only does God give us commands, not only does he give us power to obey those commands, but he also rewards us when we’ve done what he commanded us! That is the abundant life.
Probably the most memorable task he gave was in Matthew 28. It stands out because of the dramatic fashion in which he gave it. He rose from the grave, and then prefaced his command with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” No one in his right mind would ignore the next words out of Jesus’ mouth:
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.
Jesus wanted followers from every nation on earth, so he commanded his disciples to reach them and train them. And that’s exactly what they did—but this work is still not finished. He expects us to follow in their footsteps and structure our lives so that our actions revolve around completing this mission.
The church began in Acts 2 when three thousand people were converted. By AD 100, estimates claim twenty-five thousand followers. By AD 350, estimates claim over thirty million followers.
How could the church grow at this incredible rate, especially under persecution? The early followers saw their obligation to make disciples. We see the same mind-set with the church in China. So we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the results are also the same. China claimed one million followers in 1950. In 1992, the State Statistical Bureau of China indicated that there were seventy-five million Christians. Is it so impossible to believe that Christians could have this same disciple-making mind-set and experience the same type of revival here in America?
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you like this strategy or not. We don’t really have an option. That is the point of a command.
You take a big chance if you ignore an assignment given to you from your boss at work. Most of us would never consider it. So how can we ignore the King of the universe who will one day return as Judge?
The command can feel overwhelming. Many already live busy lives and at times feel like they are on the brink of meltdown. How could Jesus, who said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” throw such an enormous burden upon us? The answer is to consider who you are “yoked”—or joined together—with. Picture the imagery of two oxen placed under one yoke. Now picture yourself yoked with Jesus! Who wouldn’t want that? Isn’t this more of an honor than a burden?
Jesus ends his command by comforting us: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He promises to accompany his workers until his work is done. This is what gives us peace, confidence, and even anticipation.
Platt, D., & Chan, F. (2013). Follow me: a call to die. a call to live. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.