Summary: The Great Commission: Keeping the main thing the main thing.
WHAT MUST I DO? PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS
Big Idea: The great commission is the primary task of Jesus’ church. It is our compass that points us in the direction God wants us to go. Is the main thing the main thing in our congregation?
We are asking ourselves “What Must I Do?” and looking at the New Testament for answers. We have discovered that “Whatever God’s Word says I MUST do, God knows I CAN do!” and it is with that confidence that we approach these Biblical charges.
Today we will read Mark 13:1-10. You will notice the “Must” statement that is found in verse 10; “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
1 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" 2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?" 5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Is the main thing the main thing?
That’s my question for you today. The late Stephen Covey once said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Those words are certainly poignant, but it's not always so simple to identify “the main thing” -- or keep it the main thing. With so many aspects of life to balance it's no wonder that the main thing often gets lost amidst the lengthy to-do lists and the impromptu must-do's.
What is true for you is true for Jesus’ Church too. We can get engulfed in the wrong activity. Thankfully, Jesus helps us with this. He makes it clear what the main thing for his church is … the “Great Commission.”
The “Great Commission” is the final charge of Jesus to His church (his followers). It is found in each of the gospels and in the book of Acts.
It is given in places like Matthew 28:18-20 which reads
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age."
Or Mark 16:15-16. It reads:
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
And Luke 22:46-49. This reads:
He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
THE GREAT COMMISSION IS THE PRIMARY TASK OF JESUS’ CHURCH. IT IS THE COMPASS THAT POINTS US IN THE DIRECTION WE SHOULD GO. IT CLARIFIES OUR MISSION. IT GIVES THE PARAMETERS BY WHICH WE WILL BE JUDGED AS SUCCESSFUL OR OTHERWISE. IT IS THE MAIN THING.
So I keep sensing the Father challenging me to ask “Is the main thing the main thing in our congregation?”
Begin with the End in Mind
I once read a golf instructional book by a successful instructor called “Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime of Golf.” Penick’s book is about your golf game … but it’s about more too. For example, I found a lesson for the church in at least one point. Penick says that most people practice golf backwards. They go to the driving range and hit balls (because it’s fun and they go far) but they never practice their short game (because it’s slow and tedious) but games are won and lost on the putting green and the short game … not the tee box. Penick encourages amateur golfers like me to spend more time practicing putting and short game skills rather than going to the driving range so much. Green to tee – not tee to green. Here’s his point … and here’s the point we must keep in mind as a church … BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. If we BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND we will work with vision and focus and passion and anticipation. Otherwise our activity can deteriorate into simply burning energy and thinking we are doing good.