Last week at youth group we had an interesting discussion about missions and the act of “converting” people. Some students wanted to know why it was necessary to become a “Baptist” or a “Pentecostal” or some other denomination in order to serve God. They also wanted to know why it was necessary to parade around those names when we were doing the work of Christ.
This was a great discussion and it has had me thinking and meditating all week. So with the meat of our conversation still left in my teeth I set out to find some answers to these questions.
One person had brought up the Great Commission as a means to explain some of this. I agreed that this was a good place to start so I too looked into this verse.
-Before I begin I just want to let everyone know that I am not bashing any denomination or sect. I am just simply stating my mind and you can do with my words what you please.-
As I looked in Matthew I noticed in verse 18 that Christ said something phenomenal. He said that ALL authority in Heaven and on Earth had been given to him. So right off the bat, Christ takes all power away from man and puts it upon himself. We have no authority to make up any law or rule or “way,” we can only do and follow what Christ has commanded and taught us.
If we look at what Christ commanded us to GO and DO (verses 19-20) it was simply to make disciples, baptize people and teach people to obey what he said. I have not seen anywhere in the Bible where it says to go and make people; Baptists, or Assembly of God, or Catholics, or Mormons, or Methodists, or Calvinists, or Puritans, or Lutherans, or anything else for that matter. All that Christ said was to make disciples and baptize and teach people to obey what HE commanded.
Why then, when we go on mission trips to help people in our country or abroad, do we parade around our denominations? Why can’t we simply go in the name of Christ? Why can’t we just simply go and help people and let our actions speak for us? I think people would be more interested in Christ and his commands if it were all about him and less about us and our denominations.
What have we turned Christ into? A formula for saving souls, a way to increase our church numbers, a means by which to make ourselves look better? Have we taken ALL authority from him and placed it upon ourselves?
When we are caring for the “least of these,” are we really doing it out of a heart of compassion and a love for Christ, or do we have ulterior motives?
Is it our Great Commission or Christ’s?