I want to offer a series of posts over the next week or so about the dangers of men living an AWOL life and how they may recover a sense of meaning and fulfillment in the Jesus' Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. For sake of brevity I will need to chop them into smaller portions. I hope you take the time to follow along. (this is part 4)
In this command (Matt. 28:18-20) is a mission that will give a man purpose and keep him from living an AWOL life. How does a man avoid going AWOL?
- He must surrender all. (All authority)
- He must challenge his comfort zones and expand his sphere of influence. (All nations)
- He must commit to radical obedience. (All I have commanded you)
- He must practice the constant presence of Christ. (With you always)
You may object in thinking that the whole thing sounds too “churchy”, as if the only way a man can live a fulfilling life is to become a preacher. I am a preacher and I can testify to you; there are other ways!
The key to understanding what the Great Commission has in it for men is in the “going.” When Jesus said “Go” He didn’t necessarily mean to leave what you’re doing, although that may be the case for some. What Jesus meant instead is to “go” do what you are doing, but do it under His command; as an expression of the mission. The sense of the word is, “As you are going.” As you are working, fathering, voting, eating, driving, shopping, building, bowling, fishing, hunting, flying, helping, . . . go now through life with a purpose on a mission that can give you a definite sense of fulfillment.
But before we expand on this idea there is another pertinent question. Why did this one statement of Jesus make such an incredible impact on these 12? Why were they so willing to risk all for all? What had they heard or found in the teachings of Christ that suddenly made them so ready to go? The key, again, is in the command.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to Go and teach the nations, “all I have commanded you.” In the context of Matthew, I believe the commands point to five major teaching passages Matthew selects to be the framework of his book about Jesus. Each teaching covers a topic that is critical for any person, but especially for men who desire to be disciples of Christ. Here is a rough outline of these teachings:
Matthew 5-7 - Character
Attitude - foundational dispositions of the disciple’s soul.
Transparency - living a life that inspires others.
Purity/Hidden Sins - living a life that has no secrets.
Hypocrisy - living a life that is honest before others.
Spiritual Disciplines - learning to feed the soul.
Conversion - making the most critical choice of all.
Matthew 10 - Calling
Authority - how to keep oneself from becoming spiritually anemic.
Courage - facing opposition.
Commission - a mandate for the mission.
Matthew 13 - Kingdom
Christ stories - Simple stories that help us grasp the deeper truth of how the Kingdom of God works in the current culture.
Matthew 18 - Community
How do we confront one another?
How do we contend for what is right without destroying one another?
How do we forgive one another?
How do we restore a fallen brother?
Matthew 24-25 - Coming
Perspectives on suffering.
The end time agenda.
The danger of apostasy.
The nature of the judgment.
Being well versed in the teachings of Christ, once the disciples received the command they immediately engaged in the mission. Going AWOL wasn’t even a consideration. The only way a man can live a fulfilled life is for him to higher than himself sense of what it is he is supposed to do with the life he has. A man needs to know what it is that he was born to do. These men who followed Jesus knew their destiny. As a man, do you have a strong sense, a sense that is higher than yourself, of what it is you are supposed to do? You can.
They had a high sense of expectation and understood the measure of accomplishment. They knew how to be rewarded and they knew the danger of losing their reward. As a man do you have a strong sense of what constitutes failure and what constitutes success? Do you have a strong grasp on what leads to waste and what leads to eternal reward? You can.
They key to avoiding an AWOL existence is simple. Take command. When we take the commands of Christ and apply them to our “going,” suddenly everything about us is seen through a different lens. Some things that we gave so much of ourselves to, that ultimately lead us nowhere, will become of little importance. And they should. New things, that we have never given much of ourselves to, will begin to take precedent. And they should. Knowing what really matters is foundational to being a fulfilled man.
Avoid living an AWOL existence. Follow the command of Christ.
Continued next week . . .