Tell Your Story. The Pressure's Off.
Tell your story of how Jesus changed you and is still changing you, and then tell them how that can be their reality too.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
If you are anything like me, the command Jesus gives to his disciples here sounds intense, overwhelming and a little daunting. And if you are like me again, this so often gets amplified in our minds when we fall prey to the lie that we must strive to gain God’s approval through what we produce or perfect. Yet, if we truly heard these words of Jesus as he intended, I wonder if we would finish out Matthew’s gospel account feeling far more empowered than weary.
See, I so easily forget Jesus’ statements of reassurance that hem in this famous command. This isn’t a sending that comes out of nowhere, for in the verse before this, Jesus begins with reminding them of what has changed. This story takes place after his resurrection when he has defeated death and reigns victorious. He has taken the sins of the world and served as the atoning sacrifice, making a way for God and man to be reconciled. He holds all the authority in heaven and on earth; therefore, go.
It is as if he is saying, “Trust that what I’m telling you is, in fact, the reality—that I am in control, that nothing depends on your ability to be good enough, to earn or prove or perform. Trust that I am the one who is fully willing and fully able and trust that I have actually already accomplished all that is necessary. And in light of all of this, go and invite people into this new freedom-filled life of following me.”
And he doesn’t stop there. He closes with the reminder that he is not sending out the disciples or us, for that matter, to figure out how to do this on our own. He will be with us through it all, every step of the way until the very end. He not only has the authority, power, and means to work through us in ways we could never on our own, but he is also promising his constant companionship.
So what does being faithful to this command look like? How do we carry out this call when so often we feel like the “untrained ordinary men” the disciples are referred to in Acts?
Tell your story.
Tell your story to everyone who is searching for a better life.
Tell your story.
Not to gain praise or fame or followers.
Tell of how you stood where they stand.
You wondered what they wonder.
You feared what they fear.
And then tell them how things changed.
Not because of something you mustered up the strength to accomplish. Not because a lightbulb finally came on, revealing the most brilliant intellectual discovery. Not because you found some formula and followed all the steps or rules perfectly. Not because you created for yourself a way of life so much easier or safer or simpler or more comfortable than what you had before.
But solely because of Jesus. Because through his power and his authority you were given an offer of a life with substance and hope; a life with a steadfast foundation and oh so much grace.
Remind yourself of who Christ is and how he has promised his constant presence. Tell your story of how Jesus changed you and is still changing you, and then tell them how that can be their reality too.