Summary: The act of playing the game after careful preparation is what the world is all about. Practicing and learning go for nothing if we don’t go out and use our skills. There comes a moment in time when we need to leave the safety of our pews and go out and me
The words of the Gospel from Matthew 22:16-20 are known as, “The Great Commissioning”. Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Listen to the words: Go and make. Jesus gave his disciples a tremendous responsibility—go to the whole world and help people develop a deep and abiding friendship with Jesus. Jesus gave the responsibility for making disciples to the disciples. Let me remind you of what kind of people his disciples were. Some had been fishermen, one had been a tax collector, one had been a political extremist. Not a one of them was a priest or a pastor or religious professional. They were what we today refer to as laity—lay men and women. Remember, there were more priests and pastor types in Jesus’ day than you could shake a stick at. But Jesus entrusted this world-changing responsibility to the laity.
But not only did Jesus give his disciples responsibility, he also gave them authority. Jesus said that God had given him complete authority in heaven and on earth. What I want you to see is that Jesus did not jealously guard that authority and keep it for himself, but instead conferred that authority upon his disciples. Early in his time with the disciples, Jesus called them together and “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness” and then sent them out to do ministry (Matthew 10:1). Jesus gave them responsibility, and he also gave the authority to do what he assigned them.
This is the point I want to drive home today: Jesus gave the whole church the responsibility of making disciples and he also conferred the authority to make disciples upon the whole church. When the clergy release the authority to act and when the laity accepts the responsibility for ministry the church becomes an unstoppable force that reaches its full potential in Jesus Christ.
It was not just the disciples of Jesus time that were given the responsibility of starting the church, bringing in new members and carrying out the work Jesus had started, it is our responsibility too. We are the descendants of those first disciples. We, as Christians are part of that same heritage, that same family. It is our duty as members of the body of the church of Jesus Christ to carry our weight just as those first disciples did. The great “commissioning” that Jesus gave his disciples in the gospel from Matthew applies to us today as much or even more so. We are the church, you and I together with all believers. We have a duty to carry on the faith by promoting it throughout our families, our communities, our state, our nation and to the ends of the earth.
It is important, very important to worship God; to attend Sunday services, to go to Sunday school and VBS, to attend bible studies and prayer services. It is imperative and good that we learn about our faith but God never intended for it to end there. Too often we get the idea that the only thing that we need to do to be “good Christians” is to attend church regularly. While the act of attending church is desirable, what good is it if we just leave our faith, our passion and our fervor for God in the pew as we leave, simply to be picked up where we left it next Sunday? How many of us can honestly say that we carry our faith home with us and use it and share it with others during the week? How many of us proudly display our faith for others to see as we would a new car or new clothes? We wouldn’t think of leaving our cell phones, our wallets or our glasses in the pew all week, why then our faith? Is it less dispensable than a cell phone? While we are together on Sunday mornings we are all very proud of our faith and are not ashamed to proclaim it through our singing, our praying, our confession or declaration of faith. But too often that mind-set evaporates the minute we walk out of church. Why? Why are so many of us afraid to take our faith to others, to talk about it, to praise it in the community? Many times, I must admit, it is because we feel what we do here on a Sunday morning would be embarrassing to do anywhere else. There are those who would label us as a nut case or weird if we shared our love for God in public. There are those who would maybe sue us because we offended them. Are we to be ashamed of our faith? Does it embarrass you? It shouldn’t be that way. We should never deny our God as Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew 10:33