Have you ever felt inadequate to be a faithful disciple of Jesus, not just in the epic things but the daily things like me? We at North Life Baptist Church are right now on the front end of a principled decision to collectively become more faithful disciples of Jesus with all the stretching Bible reading/journaling, prayer, Scripture memory, witnessing, and accountability required. And to be honest we are a bit overwhelmed! And yet Christ has unmistakably made it clear to us and likely you that we are invited, with all of our woefully underwhelming history and knowledge, to be not only His followers but His representatives:
Mt 28:16-20 “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Paul David Tripp, in his book Lead, speaks to this text and how the Son of Almighty God can call such underdeveloped, inconsistent people like us to such a noble, take our breath away mission:
Jesus knowing that there was both doubt and belief in the room, was about to commission this group of fearful believers to carry the gospel of resurrection life to the world. Yes, he would commission these men at this cataclysmic moment. I likely would have thought, They’re not ready, it’s just too soon. They need to know so much more. They need to come to a deeper understanding of what just happened. They need time to mature. But in the middle of the most amazing, confusing, gloriously mind-bending moment in history, Jesus did not hesitate; he simply said, Go.”
I love the words that follow because they tell us why Jesus was confident to draft these men, at that moment, for his worldwide gospel mission. He was confident not because of what was in them and what he knew they would do, but because he knew what is in himself and what he would do. So he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He was saying to these men that there was no situation, no location, or no community outside of his authority and sovereign rule. He wanted them to understand that everything in heaven and on earth was under his command. Consider why this was so vital for these men who desperately needed his grace in order to bring his message of grace to the nations.
I don’t know if you’ve ever considered this, but the reliability of God’s promises of grace to us is only as great as the extent of his sovereignty. God can only guarantee the sure delivery of his promises in the places over which he has control. I can guarantee what I promise to you in my house, because I have some authority there, but I cannot make the same promises for my neighbor’s house, over which I have no control. Jesus is saying, “As you go, you can bank on everything I have promised you because I rule every place where you will need those promises to be fulfilled.” God’s promises of grace are SURE because his sovereignty is COMPLETE.
But Jesus had more to say. He then looked at this room of men, with the mixture of doubt and faith in their hearts, and said, “Behold, I am with you always.” These words are much deeper than Jesus saying, “I will be there for you.” Jesus is taking one of the names of God: “I Am.” He says, “Know that wherever you go, the I Am will be with you, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one on whom all the covenant promises rest, the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the who is the Alpha and Omega. I am the I Am, and I would never think of sending you without going with you in power, glory, wisdom, and grace.” The disciples would find all they needed for what they were commissioned to do in the power, presence, and grace of the one sending them.
It is with the same assurance Jesus gave to the disciples that I write…Because of the completeness of Christ’s authority, the inescapability of his presence, and the surety of his promises, we don’t have to be afraid of examining our weaknesses and failure. The gospel of his presence, power, and grace frees us from the burden of minimizing or denying reality. The gospel of his presence, power, and grace welcomes us to be the most honest community on earth. We are not cemented to our track record. We are not left to our small bag of personal resources. Because he is his best gift to us, our potential is great and change is possible.
The should-be-obvious but jarring thoughts above from Tripp reveal why our local churches are filled with believers who often lack the conviction to step up and lean into the clear commands/callings that are, in some capacity, for EVERY BELIEVER! Nothing is more paralyzing or counterproductive to our spiritual wellbeing and ministry than lacking confidence in not only our obvious calling but ultimately in OUR ALL-SUFFICIENT CHRIST. He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. Rely upon Him. Let His presence do in and through you the otherwise impossible. Simply put: to have Christ is to have the confidence of God Himself at work in our growing walk with Him. It time to start walking, serving, studying, praying, worshipping, witnessing, and leading like it!
Tripp, Paul David, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church, Crossway, 20-22.
Photo by Jonathan Klok on Unsplash