Ah yes…indeed it is one of the classic summer bible retreat message that you have heard over a million times:
“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.” (Matthew Chapter 28, verse 19-20).
Aka.. the Great Commission!
We have all been fired up during a summer bible camp hearing this message as a youngster, determined to consecrate ourselves, that we could be the instrument of God to spread the gospel around the globe. Sadly, over the years a lot of us, including myself, have lost that sense of zealousness regarding the Great Commission and have hypnotized ourselves to say that such great acts are only for great people of God, and that an average Christian like myself can at best contribute only with finance and prayers.
Yes, prayer and financial support are crucial in the Great Commission. After all, if there is someone going down the well, there must also be somebody holding the rope at the top of the well, and in this perspective, you are doing very well in contributing to the expansion of God’s kingdom around the globe. But I thought to myself, there must be something more that I can do than this... what could I possibly do more to make this divine commandment something more of a reality in my life.
All it takes is a little change in perspective
As I was praying about this matter, God made me realize something through my university campus preaching. The preacher said “You don’t need to travel to the world when you live at a place where the world travels to you”. He was absolutely right. Not only is New Zealand a world attracting tourist destination, it is also a popular choice for international students and families who are immigrating. New Zealand is that “greener on the other side” country where everyone seems to be attracted to. I mean after all, it is always ranked as one of top 10 best countries to live.
Once I realized this fact, my whole perspective about the Great Commission changed. It was no longer something that only a dedicated missionary could directly contribute, but a lay person back at home like myself could also do the same. Rather than me travelling to other nations and preaching the gospel, I would introduce Jesus to people from other nations and send them back to their countries, where they would join the local Christian community and evangelize their neighbours back home. What a blessed country to live in! Indeed full of opportunities to evangelize the whole world at the comfort of our very own home!
To a Jew I became a Jew; to a gentile I became a gentile.
Being extremely culturally Korean for the whole of my life, I realized there was a huge cultural gap and hindrances I felt when it came to evangelizing people from other cultures, even Kiwis! I mean, I speak English like a native but yet I lived inside my cultural bubble all my life that I found connecting with non-Koreans at a deep level a challenge.
I thought to myself, “But I mean do I really need to be culturally aware and sensitive? Do I really need to have that deep connection that I feel with just Korean people? Isn’t the power of God and his word able to override the lack of connection?” Then I came across this bible verse:
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” – 1 Corinthians Chapter 9, verses 20-22
Yes I already knew the answer to my question, the power of God can override absolutely anything and everything. However through this verse I felt Apostle Paul’s desperate desire to be alike with those who are different to him, in hopes that he may connect more deeply with others who are different to him and open their hearts, so that these people may more openly tune their ears to the gospel message.
Challenge yourself and get out there! Be a Jew! Be an Arab! Be the whole world!
The Great Commission is one of those commandments that we feel less guilty even though we are not actively obeying it, in fact sometimes we feel zero guilt in spite of completely ignoring it. Therefore we must press ourselves to actively be more conscious about it and strive for it!
Go approach an immigrant neighbour, whether it is at school or work, love them as Christ loved us. Continue to love and pray for them, and eventually God will open the door of opportunity to share the gospel with them.
Pray and ask God to help you understand their culture and to help you associate with them at a deeper level, to build a deeper caring relationship. Do it whole heartedly and sincerely, and the whole world will open up to you.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.