And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, `Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them — to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’ (Young’s Literal Translation)
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The word “GO” when properly translated from the original Greek text reads poreuthentes and is properly translated in most all other places as having gone or went.
Many in the Evangelical Church use this Scripture to encourage their members that real Christians focus their time and energy on going on mission trips. They imply this Scripture indicates we are to leave our families, work, and personal affairs behind and travel to a remote part of the world to save the lost. If you don’t, then you must not be a real Christian.
A poor Biblical understanding messes up many a saint. In fact, this is one of the best lessons of learning to read Scripture through the eye of multiple versions to determine its actual meaning.
Here the original word “Go” is translated in many English versions as an imperative verb rather than the corrective passive particle. A passive particle indicates an ongoing or state of completion, not an imperative command. Yes, even translators have their bias.
Jesus didn’t state a command to immediately pack up your bags and go on a mission trip. Instead, HE instructed that wherever you find yourself, make discipleship your primary purpose. Discipleship is the central core purpose behind the Church – to baptize and train students as they grow into the mature image of Jesus Christ.
We read in the Books of Acts how the early Church was forced to leave Jerusalem and, in the process, continued to teach and make disciples in the other cities and towns they fled too. Wherever they found themselves, they spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Wherever you “go” does not necessarily mean you leave your career, family, and community and travel to some far-off place. Instead, it means where you are already planted and active you share the message and teachings of Jesus Christ to others.
This is why I believe the largest mission field for any Christ-follower is the marketplace in your own community. Having setup shop in your neighborhood is a good place to begin. Your local school and shopping community is also a place where others are looking for the same relationship you have with our Lord.
You do not have to feel guilty if God doesn’t send you on a special mission trip. Yes, there are those who are specifically called for missions; just as there are Christians called to be single, or into full time vocational ministry. But we need to remember that every Christian is a full-time minister. Our vocation may be business, but our heart and mind are always reaching out to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
So, since you already have gone where you are currently residing, and whether you are a business maverick, an educational tutor, or a medical practitioner, your current world is your opportunity to live out this Scripture and make disciples of others.
Rooting For You in Christ!
PS: For those who seek to jump start into building a stronger relationship with our Perfect Father, or just seeking a monthly devotional, you may be interested in my new prayer book devotional – Overflowing Prayers Rooted in Jesus Christ v1 & v2. Check it out at here.
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