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Summary: The Great Commission is given to all Christians. As we go, we are charged to fulfil this mandate to witness. The message explores some parameters of the commission to encourage believers to fulfil Christ's command.

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“Jesus came and said to [the disciples], ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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.’” [1]

Perhaps you have heard the story of the fellow whose drive to work was interrupted by a developing tragedy. As he approached a bridge, he saw a man poised, ready to jump from the bridge. Being a conscientious follower of Christ, he stopped his car and called out to the man contemplating suicide. “Don’t jump!”

The pending jumper said, “I don’t have anything to live for. I’m going to end it all”

Thinking quickly, the man who intervened in his threatened suicide decided to attempt to find some common ground from which to work. “Are you religious?” he asked the jumper.

The jumper replied, “Yes.”

“Me too,” said the Good Samaritan. “Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Me too! Are you Anglican or Baptist?”

“Baptist.”

Growing somewhat excited, the Good Samaritan exclaimed, “Wow! Me too! Fellowship Baptist or Southern Baptist?”

Growing somewhat animated, the jumper stated, “Southern Baptist.”

“Man, that is exciting. Me too. Conservative or Moderate?”

“Conservative.”

“Man, that is great. Me too. Open Communion or Closed Communion?”

“Closed.”

“Wow! It’s great to meet someone that agrees on so much. Reformed or Armenian?”

“Armenian.”

With that, the erstwhile rescuer gives the man a shove and says, “Die, heretic scum.”

We want to place everyone in a box; we are more comfortable if we believe we are able to categorise people. When we categorise people, we find it much easier to ignore some and focus on others who are actually unworthy of our attention. While the world about us will place us in their boxes, we must resist playing that game. Rather, as followers of the Risen Son of God, we must see all we meet as those who must hear the message of life entrusted to us by Him whom we call “Master.” If we will become the Community of Faith, we must practise witnessing.

I am almost hesitant to speak from this particular text. It is so well-known among the people of God that it is almost arrogant to imagine that I can add anything to what you know of the Master’s words. However, there may be younger Christians who have not heard, or present with us may be older saints who have forgotten what they knew, or we may need encouragement to do what we are appointed to do. Therefore, I must appeal to the Words of Jesus in this text.

FIRST THINGS — In order to understand the challenge we face as Christians in this brave, new world, we must understand the culture in which we live. This world has undergone what is popularly referred to as a paradigm shift. Among the changes witnessed during these past few years is the deliberate effort to erase the very name “Christian.” Younger believers do not want the name “Christian” because of the baggage that accompanies the label. This leads me to ask, “Why is the most ethical, the most humane movement in two thousand years of Western history now something of which we are to be ashamed?

The world is opposed to the Faith, speaking incessantly against the Faith. Somehow, the idea that Christianity stands in the way of a better future for mankind has gained credence. Therefore, we witness changes in language and in attitudes as the churches make a futile effort to be attractive to the world. The prevailing attitude evident among our contemporaries is that silence is a virtue. Though the churches still serve as hospitals for the hurting, large portions of evangelicalism have grown silent. Believers dare not speak the name of Christ lest we be shamed as haters, as bigots, as phobic about one group or another within society.

I am concerned by the popularity of this attitude, and the more so when I hear the Master say, “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” [MARK 8:38]. I do not know all that is entailed in Christ’s shame concerning silent Christians, but neither am I anxious to discover what could be meant.

Similarly, the community of the faithful is pressured to avoid hot-button issues. Pastors must not speak of the pet sins of contemporary society or even register disapproval of any of the favoured evils of the day. Christians are told that we are responsible to produce deeds, not creeds. So, increasingly, the Zion of Christ invents a non-offensive Gospel, limiting the witness of the faithful to such endeavours as socio-economic issues and environmental issues. There is little distinguish too many of our contemporary churches from any other advocacy group. The Facebook generation wants to throw out a few pious sentiments about Jesus, but we dare not intimate that God holds sinners responsible for their own actions or that He shall judge mankind.

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