The Great Commission is a Team Effort
“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
If you have been a Christian or attended church for any amount of time chances are that you have read Matthew 28:18-20, heard a sermon preached on it, or been encouraged to live out these instructions in your own life.
If so, I have a question for you….do you ever feel overwhelmed by the massive scale of it? Like you just can’t do it? The job is too big, you’re not comfortable talking to people, you aren’t able to travel to another country, you aren’t a teacher….the list can go on and on.
If that is you then I have some fantastic news… you don’t have to!! …alone…
When Jesus ascended into heaven he left these words found in Matthew 28 to the group of people that he was leaving behind on earth. It was their commission, their marching orders, their calling. And if you are familiar with the New Testament you also know that we now call those people that he left behind the body of Christ or the church.
What we are seeing in Matthew 28 is that Jesus was instructing his church, the body of Christ to fulfill what we now call, ‘The Great Commission’.
If you read on in the New Testament you will find descriptions of Spiritual gifts and how the church (the body of Christ) works together in much the same way that our physical bodies do in order to accomplish tasks. (1 Corinthians 12)
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-14
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, believe in him for our salvation, and make him the Lord and master of our lives then we are also given the Holy Spirit and made a part of the church.
The church is a team and each member has a different role based on their gifts.
I think I need to use a good sports analogy… they always seem to be popular and strangely effective!!
Let’s pick… football.
Ok, so the coach walks up to a football player and says, “Son, I want you to take this football across that line over there. Then after you do that I want you to set it on the ground a little ways back and then kick it up between these two poles. Oh, and by the way, there are going to be 11 other guys trying to stop you from doing these two simple tasks.”
If it was just him on the field this would be pretty simple and straight forward (given he can kick a ball).
However, we know that given the other 11 guys on the field there would be little hope of him accomplishing this small simple task by himself.
So, he obviously needs a team to come join him and help him to accomplish these simple instructions given by the coach.
But… (analogy phase 2) what if all 10 of this guy’s new teammates did the same thing that our first player did?
Or maybe even worse, they tried to do things that they weren’t really good at??
Like the running-back demanding to throw the ball?
Or an offensive lineman attempting to speed past the defender in order to gracefully leap into the air and catch the ball?
Or, heaven help us, a kicker trying to actually tackle a runner during a kick-off return?
No. We know (because of this riveting analogy) that each player on the team must contribute his gifts and skills in the right place, at the right time, in the right way, in order to benefit the team and complete the simple task of taking the ball across a line in the grass.
So, in case my analogy has failed and you haven’t already grasped where we are going with this… let me circle back around to where we started.
The task that Jesus gave to the church as he was ascending into heaven is much like the simple task that the coach gave the football player. Jesus has instructed us to tell everyone about the salvation that comes from faith in Jesus Christ, to baptize them, and teach them to obey God’s rules… fairly straight forward and simple.
However, much like the opposing 11 guys on the field, we are opposed by the devil and our own sinful human nature. So, in order to accomplish this simple task God has given us a team, a team with supernatural gifts, to ensure we are able to complete the task.
But our team has to work together and not all do the exact same thing. We need to allow those with certain skills and gifts to do certain parts, while we do others.
Now, to wrap up :
If you are a Christian you are a part of the church (the team).
If you are a part of the church, then you have been given a gift to be used for the team.
If you have a gift to be used to help the team accomplish the task, what is it?
If you don’t know what that gift is, find out!
If you do know what it is, how are you using it?
Is the team struggling to complete the task because you are not using your gift?
The amazing thing about understanding that the great commission (Matt 28:18-20) is a team effort is that it suddenly becomes smaller and more feasible to accomplish… all you have to worry about is doing your one part and doing it well. When each team member is doing their part well then the team as a whole is unstoppable!
So often we think the great commission is an individual task when really it is a task given to a team.
Together, our team, the church, the Body of Christ, will finish the simple task that we have been given!