19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSV).
This is what I have often heard emphasized when I hear about “The Great Commission,” Jesus’ last words recorded in Matthew. But when we start in verse 19 and stop before the end of verse 20, we are left wanting. On either side of these important verses, 19 & 20a, are an invitation and a promise.
In verse 20b, we hear Jesus’s final words recorded here as: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” What a gift, to be reminded that even as we are called to extraordinary lives, God will always be with us.
Then we have verse 17. The Message translation of this passage records verse 17 differently. It reads: “The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.”
Maybe you find yourself today ready to throw yourself into God’s call for your life (even if you aren’t sure what that is). Many of you are already doing that in the way you love and care for those around you! Sometimes it comes naturally to worship with complete abandon, to have full confidence in God.
Then there are times when we aren’t sure we are ready to risk it. To be sure, true lives of worship are risky. God has called us to do the unglamorous and walk the narrow, crooked path of life. We have been called to care for the widow and orphan, immigrant and refugee, even when it is unpopular. We have been called to give when it doesn’t seem we have a penny to spare. We have been called to stop and be still when the world around us values efficiency and getting things done.
We have been called to go make disciples. Go make mistakes in the name of love for God (to be sure, being a disciple means being a student — we will make mistakes!). So go. Try to be kinder, gentler, more loving, more caring, more full of grace. Go into all the world, and to everyone you meet. Go to the ends of your own selves and share the good news: that God the creator of all things, Jesus the redeemer and the Holy Spirit the sustainer will never leave us alone.
We have been given this overwhelming task to risk our lives for the sake of God’s love. Could there be a more important reason to risk ourselves? Surely not.
Wherever you find yourself today, however you are feeling, hear that who you are is exactly enough for what God requires. Hear that you are called to live an exceptional life of care and compassion, but that when you fall short of that (and we all will!), God is always with you and goes before and after you. Hear that the last words recorded in the gospel of Matthew are not some list of rules or some unattainable goals for us; rather, it is this promise from the mouth of Jesus: “Behold! I am with you until the end of time.”
God, for this all we ask and believe in the name of the triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You are loved. Grace & Peace, Pastor Cole