The Great Commision (Mt 28) stands on the shoulders of the Great Covenant (Gen 12). For us there are two implications. 

One that we saw last time is that “Being” comes before “Doing” if all the families of the earth are to be blessed. The command in Gen 12:2 is to be a blessing; this has the force of an imperative in the original text. 

The second implication is that what God has covenanted to do is foundational to what we are commanded to do. A truly missional focus stresses his mission more than ours, and only so will the success of the gospel be a matter of faith not works. God is not looking for a bunch of activists to get the job done.

How, then, do we approach the “Go – Do” structure of the Great Commission in a way that reflects the “Go – Be” structure of the Great Covenant in Genesis 12:1-3, upon which Jesus words are built? 

·         Do nothing?

There are those who say that because God is sovereign we should do nothing. Does God not promise to Abraham that this is a work that he will do? It is probably an apocryphal story, but it sums up the attitude of some. When William Carey broached the prospect of taking the gospel to the nations at his local ministerial fraternal, an elder pastor responded: “Young man sit down! You’re an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen he’ll do it without consulting you or me!” That’s the hyper-Calvinistic “do nothing" approach. I call it the stork theology of new birth. The idea that this is where babies comes from: a stork carrying in its beak a baby wrapped in a diaper. It’s as absurd to think we have to do nothing to have spiritual babies as it is to think that natural babies will be delivered under a gooseberry bush. You do have to do something.

·         Do something?

But others have the opposite problem. “We’ve got to do something!’ they cry. “Doing anything is better than doing nothing!” But not so fast. We’re in the story of Abraham here. God had promised him a son. But Abraham said, “I’ve got to do something before it’s too late! If I don’t do something, nothing will happen.” He had no faith in Stork Theology; but his approach can be summed up as “Ishmael Theology”. And in our activism I suspect we give birth to a lot of Ishmaels. The Great Commission becomes a Great Pressure and it’s all down to us having to do something.

·         Do nothing – but what I see the Father doing

What does Jesus say? He is no fan of stork theology, for he knows that spiritual babies won’t just drop out of the sky. You can never say Jesus did nothing. But neither can you say that he said “Just do something! Anything is better than nothing.” What he actually said was that he would “do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does” (Jn 5:19). Do nothing – but what the Father does. Our doing is only participating in what the Father is doing. Which makes it possible to engage in the Great Commission in faith rather than in activism. Resting on what God has done rather than relying on what we can do.

0 comments: