In these days of intense concern about personal health, economic balance if not survival, limitations on some of our personal freedoms and most especially a very divided nation concerning the upcoming political elections it’s easy to lose sight of our number one focus as followers of Christ.
Even though there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about bringing those specific concerns to the throne of God and having the wisdom to leave them there day by day, none of these represent what we are primarily called to do. When Jesus looked at His disciples at the close of His 40 days of post-resurrection appearances and teaching, He was very clear that their responsibility was to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and I am with you always until the end of the age.”
Jesus did not call His disciples to correct the faults of a specific culture, government or nation; He didn’t call us primarily to address the woes of communication and disparity that exist in every culture, or the suffering and even violence that’s existent in our own nation let alone more underdeveloped lands. His primary focus was making disciples.
There are two ways that must remain in the forefront of our motivation and our actions in order to fulfill this great commission. One lies in the previous verse where Jesus claims that “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” In other words, we have been given a blank check from God Himself to provide whatever resources are needed in order to fulfill this commission. The basis of our appeal is not the needs of those who are lost or who openly reject Christ, it’s not to create enterprises that somehow God will later come along and bless, it’s the Lord Himself as the supreme authority and absolute sovereign Lord over our lives and those that He seeks to have us influence for His kingdom. In other words, ‘go out on the revelation of who I am; teach and preach out of the living experience of Me’ and that will be sufficient to meet the needs and change the hearts of those who are lost and bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ.
The second and often the most ignored is that the primary work of anyone who is seeking to fulfill this commission and to stay focused on what really matters to the heart of God is the key of prayer; not work, not common sense, not political involvement, not education or smoothly run programs. This is not to say that any of those pursuits are invalid, but it is to say that they are not to be our primary focus.
Over the last months I’ve seen the prayer thermometer heating up in the life of our church family at North Way Christian Community. The reward of such a focus spills out into everything from receiving God’s favor in those pursuits that follow prayer as well as opening opportunities that had not previously existed to expand the kingdom of God and open doors, fruitful doors, of opportunity to meet the needs of others and the hearts of others to hear the gospel message and understand that all true reconciliation, blessing and hope come only through a vital relationship with Jesus Himself.
Although some of our prayer times have been directly focused towards the needs of our nation in this national election season, I’m constantly reminded that in the eyes of Jesus, He sees a world that needs His redeeming life, and not just a nation. Even though it’s difficult to keep this perspective in mind when so much seems to be at stake in our local affairs and our national priorities, it’s somewhat comforting if not reassuring to know that Jesus sees all that and that He will sovereignly rule over the outcome if we with diligence, importunity and focus, continue to pray for His will to be done, for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, of which certainly includes this part of the earth but also the many other lands where oppression, tension, disagreement and even persecution and suffering are much worse than we see here.
So as you go through your weekend and into your next week of activity, be reminded that you have the authority of Jesus imparted to you to be His ambassador wherever you go and to keep prayer as your primary point of contact that preserves your relationship with the Lord so that you hear His still small voice leading you to the specific place and in the specific situations where you can exercise that authority to bring about the true, the highest objective of our calling: to make disciples of all nations!