Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Failed Commission

Most Christians who have been raised in an institutional church setting have heard the words of Jesus, recorded by Mark, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation," numerous times. It is interesting to me that this "great commission" is hung over doorways and preached regularly, usually with a healthy dose of guilt and performance-based unction.

On the other hand, the actions described immediately following this verse, including healing the sick, drinking poison, casting out demons, and picking up snakes are normally preached in a slightly different light. Since everybody knows we can't manufacture a bonafide healing or drink poison and survive unless the Spirit of God is actively involved in the process, we are taught that we must rely on Him for these miracles to take place.

Without over-simplifying the concepts here, I wonder if we could just ponder the idea that we can no more raise the dead in our own strength than we can "make a disciple" in our own strength. I think we understand intellectually the idea that it is Father who draws men unto Himself, however I believe we have been convinced throughout our lives that it is up to us to convert people and to then lead them to become disciples.

Driving into my daughters' gymnastics class last night, I found myself dreading having to enter into another conversation about God with the onlooking parents. I realized this false belief was still deep-seeded in my heart. I have been taught by the institution that I am the one who must try to "witness" and convert the unbelievers. I might as well have been given a belt and a belt-notcher. Then He reminded me that this actually wasn't up to me at all; that it is up to Him. All I am doing is making myself available for Him to work through me. This realization is so freeing, isn't it? It really is not up to us at all.

I can't help but wonder if one of the reasons we see so few attesting miracles in our society is that we start out all wrong. Without an honest reliance upon the Holy Spirit from the get-go, I think we have already started out on the wrong path. We then try, in our flesh, to manufacture "faith" so that we can see the miracles that we have determined would best fit our circumstances. This is independent thinking. Perhaps we should ask Him to cleanse us from this mindset and to remind us of the treasure we carry in these jars of clay.


  1. Janna,

    Experiencing the freedom of BEING loved is what we were birthed for wasn't it?

    How many recognized God the Father in Christ for those first 30 years of Jesus' life~NONE!

    Lets look at this now today in our settings, how many are recognizing Christ IN us, AS us today?????

    As the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, that same Word is now being fleshed out through, in us as us...God I love this increasing reality of Him Being our Only Life!!

  2. Janna,

    Maybe that is why we were birthed to know, experience the freedom that is ours as His sons, not having received a spirit of fear back unto bondage, but a spirit of adoption.
    Learning of the unforced rhythms of His grace is our inherited birthright freeing us to Be all that He has purposed for us to be.

    I am more convinced than ever, that to the degree the reality of my being His son is not unfolding with greater clarity, I will try and carry the load that I was never designed to do. Maybe that’s why He said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

    I wonder how many recognized God in Christ within Jesus’ first 30 years of his living? Let’s bring this to our time/day, how many are recognizing that same Word that was made flesh and lived with us, is now the same Word that is being fleshed out through us, in us, as us?

  3. Rich, thanks for your comments on this. I noticed you wrote two and decided to publish both. Not sure if you wanted me to but I think the thoughts needed to be emphasized here! I love it ~ unforced rhythms of grace.

    Something that stood out to me in this "Word became flesh" business some time ago was the idea that, as we speak forth the revealed Word of God, we can literally "speak Jesus" into other lives!

  4. Our availability is no small thing though.

    There are so few people available it seems, for the things of God, their neighbors, their families, their friends... for anything but themselves, and if they are available, it is for their families, friends and neighbors, which is well and good but for the fact that God is often very specific in using those willing vessels, and it is not always in the ways that seem best to us in our finite wisdom and limited capacity to help anyone.

    I've never felt like much of a witness. I've never volunteered my faith to anyone, unsolicited. I'm sure I've missed some opportunities due to my stubborn lack of availability... I fear more will follow, due to fear, and desire.

    It's taken me long enough to rest in the peace that God's grace and mercy are sufficient for me. However few relationships survive sufficiency... love requires availability.

    Just a thought.

    - Foster

  5. Foster, I hear you about our condition of independence. We are so self-centred the majority of the time, it is difficult for us to even hear Him nudging us in a particular direction!

    I have been thinking about this "sufficiency" of God's grace lately as well. I was struck by Strong's definition of the Greek word translated "sufficient" in 2 Corinthians. One of the descriptions was "to be possessed of unfailing strength." This leads me back to my previous thoughts concerning HIS strength and power being that which drives us and sources us.

    I was thinking that our relationship with Him is different than human relationships. And that HIS sufficiency, being unfailing strength IS what will make our relationship with Him survive.

    Even when we are in relationship with one another, although absolutely availability is essential, the primary purpose for that availability would not be so that I could be "of use" to the other, but rather so that I could know and be known.

  6. J,

    I like what you say about it 'not being up to us'. The reality being, that because it has been drilled into us how inefficient we are at being 'intentional' and converting the masses - that we either do nothing, or become shrouded in shame because we feel like we should be doing something.

    What we fail to recognize is that we are doing something. Because we don't see the fruit right then and there, does not mean action is not being taken.

    If we really looked at how much is written on how to be a better evangelist, and fulfilling the 'great commission' it is startling.

    But Jesus worked - for the most part (in discipling) on a one to one basis... and that has the capacity to be the most effective. The question is am I more inclined to act based on the words of an evangelist whom I cannot relate to, or am I more willing to act on Papa's gentle whisper and 'simply obey'.

    I firmly believe we have to lose the shame we feel as a result of a standard imposed on us by man and not by God.

  7. Yannah, this brought a bright smile to my face. How refreshing isn't it! It's like the burdens start washing right off. We no longer need to manufacturer a situation. Or dare I say manipulate it to suit a higher purpose! What a horrible thought but if I'm honest with myself I can be included in the grouping of that last sentence. What freedom we've just realized!! We can live authentically and through that Jesus can do and we just simply participate. What it's not all about me? ;).....

    Now the real journey, living authentically. It's the shedding of my masks. Where I lay down the lie of needing to look like like I have it altogether. Where I embrace being real. I live open handed and invite others into my journey.

    This is my commission.......
    It's not as fancy as I had once thought but now I see it's true beauty
    It's not easy but life never is
    Living Loved is the transformation

    Yannah I love your sentence:
    I could know and be known.


  8. Yes, I have adopted this commission as well, "living loved" ~ even now it catches my breath. I can feel that God-shaped hole filling up ;o)