One of the classically mistranslated teachings of Jesus is found in the well-known text of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Foreign missions has hijacked Jesus’ words and made them exclusively about a missionary in Africa or Indonesia or… While the text certainly applies to world missions, the problem with not applying it to a larger audience is, well, the actual teaching of the Bible.
The scripture uses three Greek participles that are translated “Go…teaching… baptizing.” Literally, they are parallel and the “Go” should be “Going,” but that doesn’t flow. So, what is Jesus actually saying?
The call to “make disciples” is not relegated to a few who “go” somewhere else to obey Jesus. Rather, Jesus is saying, “As you are going, make disciples.” A simple, straight forward command to all the followers of Jesus. What does it mean?
God in his kindness has equipped every child of his with gifts (Rom. 12 and 1 Cor. 12 list a few). Everyone is different—this is one of the beauties of the Church. One person is gifted in sports, another at accounting, still another in academia, another at administration, still another in hospitality, the list goes on endlessly. Jesus says, “As you are going…” that is, as you are exercising your gifts for the glory of God, “make disciples.”
The one who is gifted at hospitality was given that by God to be used as worship to God. Hospitality then is a vehicle for the gospel, to make disciples. The academic was given those gifts to make disciples in the academy. The sports star was given those skills to bring glory to God and make disciples. “As you are going, make disciples.”
The sky is the limit! Everyone has gifts, and everyone is called to use those gifts to build God’s kingdom. Those gifts are means to an end. The end is the worship of God!
So start small. There are people that God has placed in your path perhaps as a result of the common, God- given skills and gifts you share. As you are going, invite them to share a meal with you. Begin a relationship with someone who doesn’t know Jesus and see what God might do “as you are going.”