Reaching the world for Jesus is a pillar of Christianity. This is our Great Commission. We love hearing about the large numbers of people who surrender their lives to Jesus at packed Easter services, conferences, and Christian events. The trouble is, that seems to be the end of our interest in the faith journey of others.
We celebrate conversion by the masses because it appears to be an indicator of our shared success in fulfilling the great commission. There’s a lot of excitement in reaching unbelievers, which isn’t a bad thing.
But the issue is when we boil down our role of engaging others with the gospel as being the people who simply “invite.” Our churches, denominations, and leaders have often pushed us to “just invite one” and conveyed they will do the rest.
When we only see our role in the faith journey of another as the “inviter,” we set ourselves free of much of what the great commission is really calling us to. It is our faith that unites us to other believers. We ought to be tethered together, invested in each other’s lives, and care for the faith of one another further than our conversion stories.
Caring about the souls of others is about more than inviting others to church services, events, and conferences. Our care for the faith of others shouldn’t end when they proclaim faith in Jesus. This is part of the journey, certainly, but it continues on past conversion. It simply isn’t enough to see your role in the faith of others as fulfilled when you invite them to the Christian event and then pass them over to the ones who have a “call for ministry.”
Caring for the faith of others was never meant to be reduced to an assembly line. As efficient as this is to mass produce cars it’s a terrible way to interact with people wrestling with their faith.
The truth of the matter is that being part of the faith journey of another is hard. Jesus chose to work through humans to show who he is, to unite them together, and to grow them. That means that we have to stop viewing the faith of another as purely between them and God. We have to be willing to be used by God in the faith of another.
That’s how God has chosen to work since the very beginning, even though it tends to be a lot more messy than we’d like.
The Great Commission Doesn’t Take Us on a Linear Path.
One of the most challenging questions on every Christian-based job application is, “Share about your coming to faith story.”
Even as someone who grew up in the church, and has served on countless ministry teams, studied theology, and participated in just about every church function you can think of, this question still makes me nervous. It would take me multiple pages to share my coming to faith story, because there’s no specific date or singular event that I can point to expressing I crossed from unbeliever to believer.
I know there are some who have experienced something commonly described as a “Paul conversion.” God intersected his life in a miraculous way, he abandoned all of his former life, and gave his life to Jesus all in one day.
I think the majority of American Christians can relate to Jesus’ disciples. It’s unclear when they really truly understood and believed that Jesus was who he said he was. Jesus spent much of his time with them reiterating what he had been telling them since they met.
Even when they got it, they still didn’t really get it. Peter tells Jesus he believes he is the holy one of God (John 6:66), but then denies he ever knew Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). It would be difficult to outline the faith journey of many of the disciples, at least in a linear way like Paul.
There are many examples in scripture that show us that our faith is not always as linear as we’d like it to be. I’m not talking about our salvation in Jesus, but about the growth of our faith. I’m sure you can attest to this in your own faith and in the faith of those you know.
We’d love for the timeline of our faith to always look like an upward movement, but that isn’t how it goes. There are challenges in life that cause us to question the nearness of God, and maybe even our faith altogether. This is a common human experience and all the more reason why we need to be committed to journeying with one another.
Our role in one another’s lives isn’t complete when our friends come to faith. We must stay committed to being invested in their faith long after this moment, even when it’s messy and seems to take a whole lot of detours.
The Great Commission Requires Sacrifice.
Investing emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually in the faith of another requires sacrifice. It means you have to give of yourself in order to see them grow.
Is this not what the entire life of Jesus was about? This is also the model we see lived out by Paul who was following the example of Jesus.
Paul sacrificed his physical safety for the sake of encouraging and journeying alongside other believers. All of the letters we read in the New Testament were written to believers. Paul talks about giving up his liberties to win others for Christ. He also talks about being shipwrecked, stoned, put in jail and reminds fellow believers he has done this to share the gospel with them and others.
I don’t imagine that you’ll have to endure even half of what Paul endured for fellow believers, but I know you will have to sacrifice something. God just might be asking you to sacrifice something in your life in order to encourage, strengthen, or just be there for another believer. This is part of what it means to be the body of Christ.I don't imagine that you'll have to endure even half of what Paul endured for fellow believers, but I know you will have to sacrifice something. Click To Tweet
The Great Commission Will Grow Your Own Faith.
One of the most amazing things about being in the trenches with another believer as they wrestle and struggle with the challenges of life is that your own faith grows. There is something beautiful that happens in your own faith journey as you pray for and believe with another follower of Jesus.
Not that our end goal in standing alongside another believer is for the sake of our own growth, but it is often a natural outcome.
This is the power and beauty of the body of Christ. You might have your own spiritual questions that arise as you see a fellow believer struggling, but those moments are an invitation to step further into your own faith. Some of the greatest moments in my own faith have come out of journeying alongside someone else wrestling in theirs.
We like to build up the personal relationship aspect of Christianity, but we’ve often become so hyper-focused on this that we’ve lost sight of the way God intended to build us up as individuals when we genuinely care for one another. We benefit as individuals when we care about others in the body of Christ. This is the great commission.