“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15
That is one of the last statements Jesus ever uttered on this earth before He ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.
When you're getting ready to part company with someone you love more than life itself (as literally proven, in Jesus' case), and you know you won't see them again for millenia, don't you think you'd take careful consideration as to what your final words to them are?
I think so.
I especially think so when we look at who Jesus was (and is): The perfect One. The Son of God. The Messiah. The Creator of the world. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End.
So, if we take into account who Jesus was (and is) and that He was giving final instructions to His disciples on how they should continue their work--His Work-- and how they should live, think, and act, how much weight should we put on these words? These directives?
I've read these verses countless times, but only NOW am I moved to action. Thankfully, God is patient and works with me where I am, but when He's ready to move me...He moves me. And here I am...moved.
Jesus said to "Go into all the world."
As believers, and often as church bodies, I think it's easy to get comfortable waiting for those who don't know the Lord to come to us. We provide great pastors, meaty sermons, top-notch worship, amazing children's classes, and a litany of high-quality Bible studies. We have hearts to serve and motivation to love others the way Christ loved.
We do all of that within our 4 walls and that's where we tend to stop.
And as I read more and more about who Jesus was on this earth, the way He loved people, and the way He was IN the communities and dwelt among the people, I'm convicted that we so often miss the mark. I miss the mark.
Pastors, sermons, worship, children's ministry, Bible studies...they're massively important. They are. I believe that with my whole heart. I also believe that they're important components to a greater whole. They don't (or I believe shouldn't) stand alone. They shouldn't be our "GO TO" method for winning a world to Christ.
What about all those who will never come within our four walls for whatever reason?
I fall back on a lot of excuses when faced with the scary reality of going into the world:
Have I hit any of yours? Reading over those makes my heart beat fast and feel like a hammered thumb. Ouch.
It's cliche to say that there is a waiting, hurting world out there that needs us. It's cliche, but it's true.
Jesus made Himself available to the people in the communities He visited. He ate dinner in their homes. He looked at them when they spoke. He had mercy on them when they were hurting. He answered their questions.
What if going into the world didn't necessarily mean preaching on a street corner, but it did mean making ourselves available and seen? What if it means getting to know those who look, act, think, and live differently than we do? What if it means, walking in our neighborhood, our community, and our cities, and praying for others as we see them? What if it means passing out water bottles or blankets to the homeless, police, firefighters, etc? What if it meant singing on the sidewalk about Jesus' love? What if it meant watching for people who struggle or are hurting and offering to pray with them? What if it meant being visible and open to conversation, even with a stranger, even with someone we would normally not give a scecond thought? What if it meant leaving behind the responsibility that "we" will save souls and instead we just make ourselves accessible?
What if we choose to step outside of our comfort zone, unrehearsed, without expectation, and just be available?
I feel uneasy launching into something like this without planning. And some planning should be done, for sure. But...what if we're at our most refreshing and approachable when we're without expectation and fumbling our way through it. Slick, polished, perfect images tend to inspire insecurity in others and a stand-offish-ness. What if we just offered who we are; nothing more, nothing less? And then stepped back to watch God show off?
What if we took Jesus at His Word and actually went out into the world? I believe we would be floored with how many would, in turn, walk in our doors and fill up those four walls we works so hard to stay within.
As Scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
Did you catch that up there? "How can anyone preach unless they are sent?" Being sent literally means: to allow one to depart, that he may be in a state of liberty; to order one to depart, send off.
Let's have beautiful feet, friends! Let's "GO" and be available to share Jesus with a world who needs it.