The Great Commission Was Not a Request for Volunteers
“Now the city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had not yet been rebuilt.” Neh 7: 4
Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, secured the internal structures and the people. Law and order had been established. The people were spiritually focused and committed to God. The Biblical community was again set in place, but one thing was lacking - there weren’t many people in the ‘new city’. What good was it for Nehemiah to have sacrificed so much, built all that had to be built? The physical structure of the city was supposed to be there to meet the needs of the people.
Where are the people?
God went to extreme lengths for His creation - you and me. He gave His best; He sacrificed Jesus so that His Kingdom could be established on earth. God’s intention is for His Kingdom to be populated. The devil’s clear-cut objective is to populate hell and he does not care how he does it. Jesus plundered Hades so that the way could be cleared to populate His Kingdom. Too often the Church secures itself by building high walls around it to protect itself from the ‘world’, the ‘enemy’ outside. When a few souls get saved and join the city, they think this is called ‘revival’…What a tragic picture of the Church today. Especially when it was God who launched the most intensive and costly rescue operation ever.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, might not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16
Jesus tells us a parable which gives us an indication of the urgency of today and how we need to GO OUT and get the people.
The parable of the great banquet
“A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come’. The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’” Luke 14: 16 – 23
Master and servant
- The master of the house determines the timing of the banquet: The Bible says, “Now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6: 2. Our responsibility is to respond to the command to ‘Go’.
- The servant just has to respond to the instruction, and he has to leave the ‘house’ - the confinements of the church walls - to invite people to the banquet.
- The servant does the going and the telling while Jesus does the sending and the equipping. There is urgency in God’s heart towards the lost.
- The servant carries the heart of the master with a depth of passion that is on the verge of desperation. “Go out to the roads and the country lanes and make them (compel) come in.” vs 23. How burdened are you? How desperate are you to see anybody come into God’s kingdom?
- The servant’s goal is not to stop until the house is full.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest fields.” Matt 9: 37 - 38
The harvest is ready
- The lack is not in the harvest.
- The lack is with workers like you and me.
- As we pray, a burden will develop for what needs to be done.
- It is His Harvest and we are commissioned to work in His field.
There are two vital points that we need to consider. Firstly, Jesus considered it to be an essential life imparting task “to do the Will of Him who sent Me and to finish His Work.” Do you think that the task is complete? You and I both know that there is still much to do. “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising 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.” Matt 28: 18 - 20.
All we need to do is carry out instructions and deliver the message that was given to us. I am here today because someone ‘compelled’ and ‘fought for me’ to come into the Kingdom of God. Who have you found, fought for and brought in? How full are your nets?
Perhaps the Church is empty because no one has gone fishing or harvesting. This task has been left for someone else to do. How many times have you put off what you know you need to do? How many times have you used the ‘not the right time’ or ‘I’m not ready yet’ excuse?
Looking again at Nehemiah, we see that not only did he recognise the emptiness of a ‘renewed’, ‘back to life’ Jerusalem, but he goes on to say: “So my God put it into my heart.” Neh 7: 5. Jesus’ main motivation for doing anything was compassion. You will never progress effectively from point A to point Z, unless your heart is dealt with.
Who or what stirs your heart? Let us not give lip service to God, but let our hearts be moved with compassion and zeal for His Kingdom.
Being a worthy disciple
When people live their lives without God, they build all kinds of structures into their marriages, businesses and children because their lives are not built with the correct materials and are built on the wrong foundations. As soon as opposing elements come against them, they collapse. Everything comes down and the ‘walls’ are left broken and burnt. Not only can God restore a broken life, but He can make it all new again. The Bible says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5: 17
In the process of this transformation, there is the important part that this new creation plays. The problem lies with us, the disciples. Our devotion is not consistent and is often shallow at the best of times. In the book of Acts 2 : 42 the Bible tells us that these new ‘back to life’ disciples were devoted to:
- “The Apostles teaching.” Who are you mentoring and what kind of a model are you? Are you teachable?
- “The fellowship.” Are you devoted to the fellowship?
- “The breaking of bread and prayer.” Communion is an essential part of what the fellowship does; even more so is the devotion to prayer. The point I am making is that we need to be devoted, but then devoted to the right things.
Loving as Jesus loves us
Discipleship is never an option, or something to be put off. The moment you are born-again into the Kingdom of God becoming a disciple becomes your priority. You might be thinking, ‘I did a discipleship course twenty years ago’. The truth is that your discipleship programme should never end. Mentorship is not an option. Jesus said: “Go out and make disciples.” Matt 28:19. You can only do this if you are being discipled yourself.
The book of Revelation states that the problem with the church in Ephesus was that people had lost their ‘first love’ Rev 2: 4. I think that this is often true of us. We have lost Jesus’ love for the poor, the lost, the hurting, the lonely, the sick and the dying. We don’t love our cities the way that He does.
I want to love my city. I want to rebuild its walls. I want to secure the people. I want to reach out to those who need to come in, and I want to see the Kingdom of God populated. Your church needs you, your city needs you, and your God needs you. Do you want to be like Jesus? Then do what he cares for: “I have come to seek and save that which is lost.” Luke 19: 10