Devotional of the week: God with us, making 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Photo: Chris Yarzab, flickr

Photo: Chris Yarzab, flickr

The last verses of the gospel of Matthew bring another promise of incarnational truth – that Jesus will be with us until the end of time. He who was named Immanuel – God with us – at the beginning of Matthew’s account (1:23) will never leave us.

The command that comes just before this promise has been called the “Great Commission.” Through it we are exhorted to spread Jesus’ good news, making disciples as we baptize and teach them his rules for abundant living.

How are you at making “disciples of all nations”? I find it a challenge, especially when confronted with some of the evangelistic methods that used to be popular. I could never ask a stranger in the street where they would be if they died tonight. Nor could I knock on doors and pass out tracts. Perhaps the fact that these were “methods” with a goal of conversion was a part of the problem, although I’m sure the Lord has worked through them just the same.

The Great Commission is followed immediately by the promise that Jesus will always be with us, so I can’t help thinking that the two are closely related. We will be winsome in introducing people to Christ when we live in constant communion with him. Relationships are the key, not methods and goals.

This makes me think of the time I did talk to a stranger in the park. I could hear that she was a fellow American as I breezed by, then felt God’s Spirit prompt me to go back and say hello. I didn’t want to, and kept walking. The urge was strong, however, so finally I went back. Turns out she was lonely and I was able to show Christ’s hospitality to her that day. And she was from nearby Iowa (which is right next to my home state of Minnesota). Jesus in us is a transforming presence.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the appointments you are making for me throughout the day, whether while in the queue at the market, the school gates or during the commute to work. Help me be your vessel of love and grace.

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