Great Commission or Great Omission?

By Francis Frangipane

Jesus warned that there would be great deception in the end times. Humility, therefore, tells us that we should not presume our personal expression of Christianity is aligned perfectly with God's heart. How can we examine ourselves? We can measure the focus of our lives with the last great command of the Lord, called by Bible scholars the "Great Commission."

What is the Great Commission? These were the "marching orders" Jesus gave His apostles just before He ascended. In other words, this is what He desired His church to be focused on until He returned. He said,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you"(Matthew 28:19-20).

In essence Jesus wants us focused on two things: He wants us to "Go" with a view of bringing the lost into His kingdom. But He also wants the church at large to become Christlike: "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." For some, however, the Great Commission has become more like a great omission, as many Christians are neither concerned about the lost nor are they reaching for Christlikeness.

Salvation is the first step in the journey toward Christlikeness. Christ's vision is for His people to grow "in all aspects" unto Him (Ephesians 4:15). Those who obey all that Jesus taught, ultimately through the Holy Spirit, possess the same life as Christ Himself. His teaching conforms us to His heart, making us redemptive in motive and, like Him, unoffendable as we seek the transformation of our nations.

So, the Great Commission gloriously begins with evangelism and conversion, but unfolds into Christlikeness as revealed in Christ's words.

As The Father Sent Me
Christ calls us to be His followers. He said, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Just as He was sent into the world to bring redemption, so He sends His disciples. Indeed, the goal of discipleship is that we become "fully trained," so that we are functioning exactly "like [our] teacher," Jesus Christ (Luke 6:40).

You see, many believe in Jesus; few are they who mature spiritually to where they actually believe like Him. Those who believe like Him have faith that tells them all things are possible. They are confident that redemption can occur, even in the darkest regions. Thus, the goal of the Great Commission is to see these kind of Christians planted in every nation, for in their spirit is the redemptive future of each culture.

Yes, Christianity can be many things to many people: a place of friendships, healing and new beginnings; but at its core, it must be a training ground where the saved are empowered to journey toward Christlikeness.

Christ's goal was the replication of Himself in His disciples and, through them, replication of His life throughout the world. This issue, therefore, of teaching His word, of using His word to shape us from the inside out, is the goal of discipleship.

For me, the Lord sat me down and for three years I didn't pastor at all. All I did was read and study the Gospels. It was this focused refining that became the substructure in everything the Lord has me doing today. God reduced me from being a professional minister to a disciple of Jesus Christ, a true follower of Jesus as He is revealed in the Gospel in word and deed.

But this training in the words of Christ is exactly what has been omitted from so many of our churches and seminaries. We make our converts more into the image of our denomination, rather than conformed to the image of Christ.

The Chief Cornerstone: Often Rejected

Jesus said, "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone" (Luke 20:17). Beloved friend, we cannot separate what Jesus says from who Jesus is. Christ and His word are one. To the degree that we fail to teach what Jesus taught, we are actually rejecting Him as Lord.

Listen to how the Lord associates Himself with His teachings. He said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day" (John 12:48). He warned, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory..." (Luke 9:26). He exposes our hypocrisy, saying, "Why do you call Me `Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Christ and His word are inseparable. Jesus was not a man who became the Word, but the Eternal Word who became a man. His very nature is the Word of God. And to reject or ignore what He says is to reject or ignore who He is.

Thus, it seems to me that if we are not offering focused training on becoming Christlike, we are missing the heart of the Great Commission. Of course, this training may unfold in a variety of ways; it may not even use the word "Christlike" in its vocabulary. However, salvation of the lost leading to conformity to Christ and His teaching is the expressed goal of the Great Commission.

Therefore, pastors, regardless of your denominational or cultural history, we must possess two things: love for the lost and a vision of attaining Christlikeness! Create your own curriculum or use training already provided, but do not omit the Chief Cornerstone as you build His church. Intercessors, stand unoffendably committed to seeing genuine, Christlike disciples established in your church. Do not give up, even if it should take years to see the transformation occur.

Let us, dear friends, make sure we are fulfilling the Great Commission, not the great omission.