To become obedient to the Great Commission, we will have to overcome some significant hurdles: fear, pride, apathy, personal preferences and prejudice.
Prior to our Lord’s ascension, He spoke to His disciples about the Kingdom of God. He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there for power from the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then He said to them, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts. 1:3-8).
Put yourself in their shoes.
Jesus tells them that they are going to first take the gospel to Jerusalem, the very same place where the people had only just been shouting in the streets, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The people of Jerusalem hated Jesus — would they not also hate His followers? Then, Jesus says they will take the gospel to all Judea and Samaria — and the disciples hated the Samaritans. (Jews were incredibly prejudiced toward the Samaritans because they had intermarried with non-Jews and had syncretized and compromised their religion.)
And from there, they will take His gospel to the ends of the earth, where along the way they would face “danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:26-27). Has Jesus gone crazy?! This is a mission for madmen!
What did the disciples have to overcome?
- Personal Preferences
We are afraid of our Muslim neighbor. Our pride is so great that we refuse to be served. Apathy rules our hearts. We care primarily for ourselves and refuse to make sacrifices in our lives for the sake of the gospel. In fact, why would we make sacrifices for “those illegal immigrants” who just need to be deported or for “those Muslims” who must all be terrorists? Ultimately, I think the strongest impediment to reaching the nations that God has brought to be our new neighbors is, well, us.
- Fear must be replaced with bold proclamation (Acts 4:23-31).
- Our pride must be overcome by humility (Philippians 2:1-8).
- We must trade in our prejudice for impartiality (James 2:1-13).
- The apathy in our hearts must be exchanged for zeal for the peoples to praise our Lord (Revelation 3:15-16).
- We must care less for our own personal preferences than the salvation and good of others (John 4:1-44; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24).”
We must recognize that sin is what impedes our ability to get the gospel to the least-reached, most difficult places and peoples. Which of these is keeping you from taking the gospel to the nations that God is bringing to be your neighbor?