“Go!” is a little word that is used by God and Jesus that demanded action. Failure to act or resistance to the command resulted in frustration by God.
When the Israelites were camped at Kadesh Barnea during the exodus they were commanded to “Go up and take possession of the land I have given you”. They did not trust or obey God and spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before they could enter the Promised Land.
When Jonah was commanded to “Go to the Nineveh and preach against it” he tried to run away. God had him experience a terrible storm at sea and a ride in the belly of a big fish to convince him to obey the second time he was commanded to go.
After Saul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, Ananias was commanded to “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul”. Ananias protests. He is very fearful of Saul, who has come with authority to arrest all who call on the Lord’s name. The Lord does not answer Ananias’ concerns, but forcefully demands action by recommanding Ananias to go!”
So, what do these examples say to us when we are commanded to “Go” by Jesus?
“Then 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.” [Matthew 29: 18-20]
Is our “Go” demanding action on our part? Are we expected to leave house and family to “Go” to all nations?
Yes, our “Go” is demanding action, but we can fulfill that command to “Go” in many ways.
Paul described the body of Christ as a body made up of many parts, each one doing its part so the body as a whole is fulfilling the command to go. We can partner with those who receive a call to go to the mission fields through our prayers and financial gifts and fulfill the demand for action in these ways as we are already doing.
But all nations that we are commanded to go to also included our friends, neighbours, fellow employees and our families. They form the relationships in our lives that we do not need to travel afar to go and make disciples of.
Paul described our “Go” command here in different terms – the ministry of reconciliation.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” [2 Corinthians 5:18-20]
So our command to “Go” to all nations includes those close to us, and we are expected to share the message of reconciliation.
“God is reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them.” [2 Corinthians 5.19]
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” [2 Corinthians 5:20]
As Christians, we should not take this “assignment” lightly, remembering the examples of those who chose not to “Go” as commanded.
Peter also words our command to “Go” in a different way, but he captures the same concept.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” [2 Peter 3:15]
It is odd God would rely on us weak and easily deceived humans to make His appeal to all nations. It is a crucial message. Those who do not hear it are facing eternal damnation.
Yet today we are told “keep your religion to yourself”. We are fearful of the rejection and judgment of those around us, and judging by the mostly complete failure of today’s Christians to share the message of reconciliation to those close to us, we are more scared of our worldly society and of failing in bringing those we witness to, to believe in Christ than we are of God who has commanded us to “go to all nations”.
What if they reject and shun me if I witness my faith, what if they laugh and mock me, what if my witness is not an outstanding one, what if I make a mistake, what if they slam the door in my face, are among the multitude of thoughts that keep us silent when we should be bold. Our fears hold us hostage.
We need to understand there is no failure anytime we witness our faith, even if it is only to invite a friend to church. Each time we share the message of reconciliation it is a total success, because that is the total of our responsibility.
We do not convert anyone to Christianity. We cannot argue, debate or convince anyone to become a Christian. God alone does that work. He draws and enables, He calls and chooses. Our responsibility to “Go!” is to share the message. God has committed to us the message of reconciliation, not of converting.
So, each time we share the message of reconciliation [even by just inviting someone to church] we are fully successful. Because that is all we can do, the rest is up to God.
Let us be bold then and not frustrate our God by not obeying his command to “Go!”