[This article is part of the Can I Call Myself A Christian? series]
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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:18-20
To go and make disciples of all nations, as told in Matthew 28:18-20, is not a Christian regulation we can either follow or neglect whenever we want to or feel like it. To go and make disciples of all nations is a non-negotiable duty given by the Lord Jesus Himself to those who profess to believe in Him.
But how come many professing believers of Jesus still do not make disciples? How come many Christians remain comfortable being churchgoers instead of disciple-makers? How come many Christians have heard about this but only a few respond to it? Why does it seem like Christ’s Great Commission is an optional mission for many?
One of the many reasons why so many people in the church are not sold-out to the Great Commission is because they are not disciples themselves. Discipleship is in the DNA of the Lord Jesus and He has set the pattern to live it. A true Christian acquires this DNA. Making disciples is a natural response, not a pre-requisite, of being a disciple. Proclaiming the love of Christ is the overflow of sharing in the life of Christ.
If a Christian is not making disciples nor sharing Jesus to others, it could be that he is not a Christian to begin with. It could be that he has only been a Christian because he said/thinks so but not because he is so. It could be that he has prayed the prayer of acceptance but have never truly responded to God’s Lordship. Simply, we will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).
Many Christians today believe that they are Christians only because they have heard about Jesus. This is what Satan enjoys because he is the father of lies (John 8:44).
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Satan is pleased when Christians listen to or even memorize the Great Commission but do not respond to it. Satan is pleased when Christians claim to be Christians without following Jesus.
Imagine a father telling his son, “Go clean your room.” Then the son comes back few hours later telling his dad, “I memorized what you said, dad. You told me ‘Go clean your room’. In fact, I can now say it in many translations. Later, my friends and I will meet to study how it would look like if I actually clean my room.”
That does not make sense, right?
Then why do we think we can come before the Judge one day and quote everything that He said and tell Him how much we know of it?
Jesus, in John 15:16, says: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.” This is Jesus telling His followers: I chose you to bear fruit. Christians are called to bear fruit inwardly and outwardly.
Therefore, even with knees shaking, voice trembling, problems left and right, a true believer of Jesus will walk the narrow path of bearing fruit (e.g., inviting people to come to Christ, introducing the gospel to friends, relating to people on a life-to-life level, shepherding the losts, and walking with people to encourage them to follow and obey Jesus) — even if it would mean losing all that he values here on earth (Luke 14:26-27,33), all for the sake of the One who matters most.
Matthew 28:18-20, beyond being a commandment, is a privilege and a responsibility. It is partaking to a mission Jesus modeled and then entrusted to those He has called and chosen. It is sealed not only with a declaration of Jesus’ authority, but also with His promise of being with us always to the very end of the age.
If you know the cure for cancer, you will not keep it to yourself. Instead, out of the privilege of knowing the cure and being entrusted to share it to others, you will boldly announce it to everybody so that those who are sick of cancer and will believe in such cure will be healed.
Christians have the cure for the malignancy of the soul. His name is Jesus. He is not meant to be kept to one’s self. Out of the privilege of knowing The Cure and being entrusted to share Him to others, He must be proclaimed boldly to everybody so that those will believe in Him will be saved.
However, many Christians contend that they do not know enough of Scripture to go and make disciples. Many Christians defend their lack of experience in ministry. Many Christians think that “Well, God does not mind if I do not make disciples. He unconditionally loves me anyway.” Some are just too busy to make disciples while some would say, “But I am discipling my kids.” or “But I have three or four disciples already.”
Again, these are deceptions that satan tells us.
Satan will do anything for us to not make disciples. He knows as well that obeying this command will transform the world. So he will make us too busy and distracted. He will make us feel unworthy and inadequate. He will make us complacent. He wants us to deprioritize discipleship. He will make us believe that making disciples is optional.
Jesus prioritized discipleship in spite the many things He was doing — healing the sick, making miracles, feeding thousands, etc. He spent or rather invested His time and efforts for God’s Kingdom and righteousness. Making disciples was, and still is, very important to Him.
Therefore, how a professing follower of Jesus spends his time and efforts reflect what is important to him — “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). If a Christian spends his time and efforts for himself and the world, Jesus is not a priority to him. We would have every reason to doubt the sincerity of his faith.
But if a Christian spends his time and efforts for Jesus and what is important to Him, Jesus surely is a priority to him (John 14:15).
Are you a professing Christian who does not have a conviction to go and make disciples? Have you neglected and underestimated the value of The Great Commission? Are you uncertain if the fruits you have been bearing reflect Who you have believed and received? Do you desire to commit and consistently partake in the Great Commission and be used by God for His Kingdom?
If you have answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, I would like to ask you this question: Are you for Jesus or not? If you are for Jesus, then go and make disciples. If you are not for Jesus, then do not go and make disciples. No in-betweens, no what-ifs (Matthew 5:37, Revelations 3:16). You are either for Him or against Him. You either have Jesus or you do not have Jesus (1 John 5:12).
When Jesus says, “Go”, and you believe who He is and that what He says is true, then be willing to move and to let Him move through you because whenever Jesus asks a true Christian to move, He never asks him to go alone.
Making disciples may seem scary and ridiculous but beyond responding to any of His commands, Jesus is after the condition and character of our hearts.
Do you love Jesus? Then go and make disciples. If you do not love Jesus, then do not go and make disciples. Ultimately, Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” and in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”