When we planted the church, our leaders commissioned us into our new phase of life and ministry. While they were praying over us two phrases rushed into my mind. The first phrase was, “I will build my church”. The second was, “Make disciples of all peoples.”
Every red-blooded believer knows, even vaguely, what those phrases are about. In the first case, Jesus had asked his disciples if they knew who he was. Peter, the leader of the leaders, blurted out, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” To which Jesus replied, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:18)
Jesus established some facts here that we need to be mindful of:
- “Jesus is the Messiah”, and all that this entails, is the firm foundation upon which he has been building his ever-expanding global church throughout the ages.
- Jesus is ultimately responsible for the creation of his church, his bride, and he knows those who are his.
- “Gates” represent a defensive position. The gates of Hades, as far as Jesus is concerned, are under siege. And they will not prevail. All too often, the church seems like it’s under siege by the forces of evil. However, we are meant to be the aggressors against an enemy who has in reality already lost the battle!
In the second case, in a similar way to us being commissioned by our leaders, Jesus was commissioning the Church when he said, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19)
Let me draw out some points here for us to keep in mind:
- Jesus was not just commissioning eleven individuals, he was commissioning the Church collectively which at that moment comprised 11 leaders we call apostles. It is vital for the Church to recapture a corporate ethos, rather than an individualistic one, in order for us to be strong enough to accomplish our mission.
- If we are to make disciples, Jesus way, some attitudes and practises in the Church need to change. Jesus taught by living out the gospel in the presence of his disciples. He didn’t just give lectures on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. The principles of the Kingdom are much better modelled than messaged. They are better “caught” than “taught.”
The church in Canada is suffering an identity crisis. We feel under siege, irrelevant, powerless. We must rediscover, in reality, that we are victors over evil. We start by finding strength in radical, authentic communities committed to obeying everything Jesus taught. The way to overcome evil (firstly in us) is to willingly commit to the crucible of community comprised of other broken but redeemed humans. This is where we learn the cost of true discipleship.