Your Family’s Great Commission

Kim Sullivan

August 25, 2016

This command, often called the Great Commission, was the last thing Jesus shared with his followers, so it must have been important parting instructions:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20)

Often, we envision leaving the Great Commission to those in full-time ministry or for a missionary living on the other side of the planet. However, the Great Commission is to be practiced by all of Jesus’ disciples. All Christians are called to fulfill this command as individuals, and we can begin putting it into practice as a family.    

Disciples go where Jesus told them to go

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go (Matthew 28:16). 

Sometimes this can be as simple as going to work, school, or the grocery store. What are some other places we are commanded to visit?

Scripture commands us to worship with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 in the Living Bible encourages fellowship, "Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near." Our busy lifestyles nudge us to neglect our spiritual lives. Parades and sporting events are often scheduled for Sunday mornings. Even weddings are now planned on Sundays. Once we get out of the routine of regular church attendance, any and every reason draws us away from our original discipline. Jesus worshiped with others on a regular basis. 

"He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read"(Luke 4:16).

We spend time with other believers in order to encourage one another to remain faithful. Having this practice in common with Jesus will establish devotional habits in your family. When church attendance is made a priority even over sporting events and hobbies, you are giving a practical example of putting God first in your lives.

Scripture also commands us to help the poor, widow, and orphan. Jesus identifies with the poor in Matthew 25:36, "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Mother Theresa, a nun in India, when asked why she would care for a dying Hindu man, replied, “I see Jesus in you.” Mother Theresa understood that whatever she did unto the least of these, she was doing for Jesus. Find a widow that your family can adopt, or perhaps a nearby food pantry where your children can serve food. Christian organizations welcome the helping hands of your family. In caring for others, your family fulfills the Great Commission because, in serving others, they are serving God.

Disciples worship

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:17). 

Our sin can make it hard to see God well, but even in the midst of our doubt, we can worship him. We can seek him, praise him, and trust him. 

  • We See God in Scripture. God revealed himself to his people, even when they broke relationship with him in sin. God kept showing up, revealing himself, acting in their lives, and encouraging them to bear witness to the generations that followed. The Spirit guided their words into Scripture. We come to know God better when we spend time reading what he has said and done. The Bible is a love letter written by the Lover of our Soul. Whether before breakfast or dinner, spend a few minutes in God’s word together as a family. This gives your family the opportunity to see Jesus, the living Word, in the Bible.
  • We See God In Nature. "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  If we feel deplete of God, we have no excuse, it only takes a walk in the park to see him. A moment on the front porch becomes a moment of worship when we choose to see him in our surroundings. Next time your family is hiking or doing yard work, take a moment to point out how God can be seen in nature.
  • We See God in His Christ. Jesus is God's Christ, making him one of the primary places we can see God. God himself kept his covenant with his people, and paid the price for all our sin. The savior and messiah that Scripture promised is Jesus of Nazareth, who died so we could be reconciled to the God who made us. This is the core of the gospel. This is why Christ has all authority, this is why we follow him. God brings us to himself in Christ by the Spirit. 
  • We See God In Our Circumstances. God still works in our lives. He still acts through his Holy Spirit. He still has all authority, even when circumstances seem otherwise. Remember the story of Elisha and his servant? The servant was convinced because of the visible circumstances that they were already defeated. But Elisha responded, 
"Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17).

When we see with clear eyes, we see things in the spiritual world. Things in the spiritual are eternal, while our circumstances are only temporary (Hebrews 11:1-2). When we see Jesus in our situation, we can worship him regardless of our circumstances, because we know that in the end, he wins.

  • We See God In Others. We are called to see him in the hungry, thirsty, stranger and sick. As we serve others, as Mother Theresa said, we can choose to see that we are really serving Jesus. As the spiritual leaders in our home we see Jesus in the faces of our families as we choose to serve them.
Matthew 10:42-45  says, "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. 'They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 'He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ " 

Jesus confirms his authority

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."

The disciples, who saw Jesus crucified, thought that all was lost in with his death. But Jesus truly was God's Christ, and he conquered death. Jesus paid the price for everyone's sin, and changed everything. The result is that all authority in heaven and earth, over life and death, over all things, now belongs to Christ Jesus. The monumental directive he is about to share is rooted in his authority as our risen savior. 

When your children see you submit to God’s authority and the authority of God given leadership in your life, you are modeling for them one of life’s most difficult journeys. Doing the will of another is a beautiful way that we exhibit humility. When our families see us bow the knee to the needs and wishes of others, it makes it that much easier for them to obey us when we give them direction.

Jesus instructs us to make disciples

"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).

Because Jesus has paid for the sins of all people and established his authority over all things, he offers some direct commands. 

 In your going

  • In your everyday going, you should be cultivating disciples. Share the good news without prejudice and with all liberality. Don’t keep this message back from anyone! Share it with your neighbors. Help the gospel to go into every country, every people group, to the farthest corner. In our diverse and sometimes tense climate, expose your children to cultures, ethnicities, and even religions different from our own. Even if you have to travel a distance, create opportunities for your children to see how others live. Teach them how to speak to those who disagree with you so they know confidently where they stand in the world. If everyone in your circle looks the same, it’s time to widen your circle!

Make Disciples

  • Help people learn to follow Jesus. We are to go and tell. Tell others who Jesus has been in our lives, to explain the Good News to them. We are encouraged to introduce Christ to others: "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14).
  • Help people put their trust in me as the God in their life. We cannot make people believe what we want them to, but we can put our faith on display. It is difficult to deny the strong belief of others. Faith is contagious. Tell your story. Allowing your faith to shine will allow others the opportunity to believe and be baptized.
  •  Help people live God-honoring lives. Teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. As Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands" (John 14:15).  When we make disciples, we teach others to follow Christ. Following Christ means doing the things he does and obeying what he has asked of us. Sometimes it is easier to preach an easy gospel with all of the benefits of Christianity. However, we are called to make followers, not fans. Followers obey rather than just observe.

Jesus promises his presence

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age"(Matthew 28:20).

It can be frightening to share your faith, and even more frightening still to make disciples, because discipleship requires accountability. This accountability invites one to discomfort and hard choices, sometimes making us the last person on earth they want to see. But though you may feel alone in the discipleship process, you are promised that calling others to follow Christ promises that he will always be with you, perpetually, no matter what you are experiencing. What a faithful promise! 

As parents we often feel the pressure to keep the troops happy. But this Scripture is promising that even when you have to do the unpopular discipleship-oriented things, you are not alone. Christ is with you. Your obedience to his agenda will bring its own reward. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it"(Hebrews 12:11).

About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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