When Jesus walked in our midst over 2,000 years ago, He gave his followers a Great Commission and a Great Commandment. Both are directly tied to Jesus’ mission to extend the Kingdom of God to every person on earth. The Great Commission was the “what,” and the Great Commandment was “how” to undertake the mission. These directives to His followers were at the center of everything Jesus taught us. They are essential to releasing the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in the present age. The Great Commission is a clear and simple command given to every believer. It is simple to understand, but requires a supernatural work of God to achieve – a work that involves people like you and me personally engaging Christ to see this commission realized.
Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:18-20
The scope of Jesus’ mission is awesome. All authority. Go. Every nation. All peoples. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach. Obey. It would be almost impossible to misunderstand what Jesus is commissioning us to do. The question we must wrestle with is, do we embrace or reject Jesus’ mission as our mission? Today, there are over 2 billion people on this planet who have never heard of the name of Jesus. They have never experienced His relentless love. As Christ followers, we have no greater mission than to be a part of reaching those who have never heard. The most basic right of every single human that God created is the right to hear the Good News.
The Great Commandment reflects the passion and the heart that is required to make disciples of all men and women – Love. Jesus’ view of “love” is clear in scripture.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ” Matthew 22:36-40
A lifestyle of love and selfless acts of love are pretty important to Jesus. In fact, the greatest thing that we can do is love. Love is “how” Jesus relates to us. Christ has called those of us who follow Him to embrace both the “what” and the “how” of Jesus’ mission. They are inseparable. The supernatural love of God has redeemed every one of us. As we give away that love freely to others, it softens hearts to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People who do not know Jesus today, or who have never heard of Jesus, will need to practically experience His love to fathom the depths of the Gospel.
We define “holistic ministry” as practical acts of love (meeting genuine human needs) intertwined with the proclamation of the Gospel. As we collaborate with the church down the street, or with indigenous ministry partners in the least reached areas of the world, we must always look for holistic ministry. That means we need to understand the local needs, look for ways to empower and release local giftings and talents, stand ready to serve the vision of local leaders on the ground and serve generously from the grace that God has given us. It also means that we are willing to serve others with our time, talent, treasure and prayers. This is the most practical way to serve Jesus as well, by loving and serving the least of these.
Jesus had the same holistic ministry model. His acts of love included feeding the poor, healing the sick, visiting the outcasts, serving across racial boundaries, strengthening the weak and teaching the uneducated. Jesus also taught about caring for the homeless, caring for orphans and widows and visiting prisoners. In every one of these acts of love, we are to preach the Gospel of Jesus so that men and women can enter the Kingdom of God. Then they will go themselves to become a disciple of Jesus and adopt His mission.
As you consider your role, and the role of your church, in fulfilling the Great Commission and Great Commandment, be intentional to serve in a way that unleashes both the power of the spoken and the experiential Gospel. This we know, every one of who is a disciple of Jesus has a specific role to play. We were saved with a purpose far beyond our salvation, and that is to know God, to be known by God, and to make Him known to others.
This blog post first appeared as an article for the International Day for the Unreached – a day designated to bring awareness to the 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel and rally the church to the Great Commission. This year IDO will occur on June 4. You can find the original article here.