Motivation for the Great Commission

Author’s Note:
In this abiding series, each post will be framed as an email correspondence to a friend who is seeking to get ‘more’ out of his or her faith. My hope is that by exploring this topic as a conversation, you will resonate with the message as deeply as if it were a letter addressed to you.

To: Friend Seeking More from Faith

From: Doug Nuenke

Subject: Motivation for the Great Commission

Hello my friend,

In your last email, you talked about feeling guilty while listening to a sermon on Sunday. You quoted the speaker as saying, “Jesus had only one plan – his disciples, and if they didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done!

Gosh, that’s some serious pressure! You said, “I left feeling like the whole Great Commission depends on me to accomplish it.”

I relate to those feelings. I’ve also felt motivated by guilt and duty at times and used those methods to try to move people to action. But it doesn’t mean it’s truly helpful, especially over the long term.

The Great Commission’s call to “make disciples of all nations” is a command, but it is much more than something God wants us to do.  Disciplemaking is an invitation to partner with him in the work he wants to accomplish on Earth—a call paired with equipping.

In fact, this conversation about motivation for mission brings us back to a recurring topic we’ve discussed: where does the power come from for all God asks us to do?

In my experience, the Great Commission is often recited in incomplete form. Many will recite our call “to make disciples of all nations” but leave out some very important phrases. Let’s take a look at the original passage of Scripture:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV, emphasis added)

Do you see it?! The most important part of the Great Commission is the part that tells where the power comes from!

The authority and power for reaching the world for Christ rests with Christ! Look at the final phrase of the commissioning “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The motivation and strength to accomplish the Great Commission is only available when we abide in the presence of Jesus. He is with us, and it is Christ’s power in His people that fulfills His plan. This is less of a delegation and more of an intimate partnership. Our task is infused with his authority and promised presence.  

I recently read an article that said, “guilt may work in the moment, but we don’t just need to act for a moment. A broken world needs us all-in, sold out to restoration of the world and the people in it—day in, day out!”

The Great Commission is a lifelong calling that can only be sustained through the natural outpouring of our abiding relationship with Christ. Guilt may effectively motivate us for short spurts, but burnout always waits on the other side of our own strength. Our faithfulness as disciplemakers depends upon the equipping Spirit of God who is available to us every moment of the day.

Jesus promised us this Spirit in his final words before ascending to heaven:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”

(Acts 1:8, NIV)

Do not let the Great Commission weigh on you like a heavy burden, my friend. It is an invitation to join Jesus in the work of drawing people into his wonderful companionship.

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