The Priorities of the Great Commission

By Ryan Shaw

It is important to distinguish what the Holy Spirit’s aims and goals are in the Great Commission. Church and mission history reveals agreement that the Great Commission is primarily not about humanitarian, political and secular work among society.

It is a spiritual work focusing on the eternal values of declaring the Gospel, making Jesus known, experienced, loved and obeyed among all humanity, and seeing transformation of those among whom the Kingdom of God is being manifest.

The body of Christ is meant to reveal to the world the superiority and supremacy of our great King, who is the rightful ruler over all due to His resurrection. Believers do this by loving Jesus with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength, living victoriously over the power of sin, being regularly filled with the Holy Spirit and responding to His commission by being Message Bearers of this great King, the envoys and ambassadors of their Lord, going beyond the current places where the Gospel and the Kingdom of God are being realized.

This work, while being spiritual in nature, is pursued within all realms of society (arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion). We have tended to do fairly well in the religion realm in our work among the unreached. However, to disciple an entire ethnic group requires engaging the Gospel in all seven realms of society among the particular ethnic group.

This aim and goal is more than individual conversion and discipleship. It implies the gathering of disciples together to grow in love, encouragement and ongoing spiritual maturity in culturally relevant small churches or campus ministries.

These communities are self-sustaining as they take care of one another free from the hindrances of financial burdens of buildings, paid pastors and leaders, etc. They are organic and reproducible across ethnic lines and reflect culturally understood and appropriate forms.

Wholehearted love for and obedience to Jesus provokes us to see those out of access to the Gospel given opportunities to it. With Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:16, we are compelled to “preach the
gospel in the regions beyond.”

The largeness of the task does not intimidate us. Instead, we see the apparent impossibility of the fulfillment of the Great Commission as the glory of it.

God, the Holy Spirit, is the true director and orchestrator of the Great Commission. It is He who works in us and through us to exalt Jesus Christ among all ethnic people groups.

It is crucial to keep the Gospel, spiritual transformation of people, and the gathering of disciples into living, organic communities (churches or campus fellowships) as our priority in the Great Commission.

The body of Christ gets into trouble when prioritizing other elements in its work. However, this does not mean there are not multitudes of activities we may engage that support the priority of the Gospel. The needs among humanity are manifold, and seeking to meet these needs are ways the body of Christ stands for justice and serves Jesus’ commission.

Such activities may include helping minimize poverty, teaching children through a biblical worldview, setting up clinics and hospitals serving the poor, overcoming sex and other forms of human trafficking, caring for orphans and children at risk, being a mouthpiece against abortion, and seeking to alleviate other societal injustices.

These flow like a stream into the river of the priorities of the Gospel and of gathering new disciples into small, reproducible culturally relevant communities of faith.

Reflection Questions:

1) What are specific ways that you can align your life with the priorities of Jesus’ Great Commission?

2) Consider examples of how those priorities can easily get muddied and out of focus in today’s generation.

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