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 that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20
|Love and Obedience on display
It is clear that God's love motivated His sending of His Son Jesus--this is the heart of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." However, oftentimes this point is missed when talking about the mission of the church and individual Christians in taking the Gospel to the nations.
The Great Commandment, to love God and our neighbor is the fuel, motivation, heart, logical corollary to the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.
A failure to love God or love our neighbor will discourage us from seeking to fulfill the Great Commission--especially as it is costly, difficult, dangerous, and counter-cultural. In the same way, we are not really being obedient to the Great Commandment if we do not love God enough to be obedient, or our neighbor enough to tell them the good news.
One can be motivated towards Christian missions out of the wrong basis also--history is repleat with Christians motivated by pride/ego, by racism, by humanism, by greed in expanding Christendom. The Great Commission is wicked cultural-imperialism when not paired with the Great Commandment. Jesus says, "All authority... has been given to me. Go," this is a command given to all Christians, but one that can only be fulfilled in love--"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3)
This is a connection that I desire to understand more deeply. Being obedient to the Great Commission is one of the ways in which the contemporary church needs to learn how to be more loving towards God and towards its neighbors.
The often discussed dichotomy between proclamation/social missions shows how little we understand the deep connection between the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.