“Change the World: Go out into the World Boldly”

Weekly Bible Devotional

“Change the World: Go out into the World Boldly”

October 27, 2019

 

Adventure Quest: How has God been touching your life and calling you to serve?

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Scripture for Sunday: Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Notes on the Text:

The Bible reading for this week comes from the end of the Gospel of Matthew. It is a commission from Jesus to the disciples to go out to the nations to make disciples. The Gospel began with the birth of Jesus as a fulfillment of God’s promises and ended with Jesus asking the disciples to continue to fulfill God’s vision and mission in the world. Jesus knew the power and importance of relationships for the fulfillment of God’s vision. He invested a lot of his time and energy into making disciples. He trained, taught, and equipped them. He shared life with them. When the time came for him to leave his work here on earth, he commissioned them to do the same with others.

 

Jesus’ vision was for the transformation of the whole world. That is why he sent the disciples out into the world to make other disciples. This was not about converting people to a religion. If we take the context of the commission seriously, we cannot imagine that this is what Jesus meant. There was no such thing as “Christianity” at that time. The followers of Jesus understood themselves as Jewish. The conversion was to a way of thinking and living that had the Kingdom of God and its values at the center. It was about making disciples who feed the hungry, heal the sick, rescue the oppressed, and welcome the stranger. The Kingdom of God offered an alternative to the violence and oppression of the empires. It also offered a new set of eyes to see and experience God in the world. The early church grew because the disciples followed in the footsteps of Jesus by focusing on taking care of those in need and challenging the systems and ways of thinking that led people to misery.

Richard Rohr writes, “I often say that we do not think ourselves into a new way of living, but we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. I’m not suggesting that theory and theology are unimportant; but I believe that faith is more about how we live on a daily basis than making verbal assent to this or that idea. In fact, my life’s work in many ways has been trying to move heady doctrines and dogmas to the level of actual experience and lifestyles that are an alternative to our consumer culture. In today’s reflection, Shane Claiborne, an Evangelical I deeply respect, invites us to quite literally follow Jesus: “Over the past few decades, our Christianity has become obsessed with what Christians believe rather than how Christians live. We talk a lot about doctrines but little about practice. But in Jesus we don’t just see a presentation of doctrines but an invitation to join a movement that is about demonstrating God’s goodness to the world.”

For Reflection:

I am grateful that the disciples fulfilled their commission. They trusted Jesus’ vision and taught others to join the movement. We owe our own faith to their witness. And since the mission of Jesus is not yet complete, our work is to continue to make disciples in the world. Our world is in desperate need of the good news of Jesus to reshape our imagination about our politics, our finances, our economy, our relationships, and our souls’ need for the sacred.

 

As you can imagine, I have been following the recent developments of the crisis in northeastern Syria and how the Christians there are living out their faith in a very difficult situation. Since Turkey’s military assault on the Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria, the situation has become unbearable for many. Yet, these disciples of Jesus are choosing to use their resources to help others. The churches have become places where many displaced families are staying. Ibrahim Nseir, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Aleppo and a board member of the Synod of Syria and Lebanon, said that their three sister churches in the area are well-qualified to help, but have no funding. He recently shared with his American friends that “The churches are the means of God to take care of the needy and the marginalized. They have carried the largest share of relief work.” Throughout the whole war in Syria, the Christians have lived out their discipleship and found ways to be the hands and feet of Christ. They inspire me in so many ways about the importance of discipleship and of keeping the dream of the kingdom of God alive.

 

Elizabeth Johnson notes that, “Perhaps not all are sent to be wandering missionaries, depending on others for shelter and sustenance, but that doesn’t mean we are off the hook.  The entire baptized are sent into the world to tell and embody the good news of Jesus Christ.  All are sent to bear Christ to others with humility and vulnerability, being willing to risk rejection.   What would happen if we stopped expecting people to come on their own initiative through our church doors, and instead took seriously our calling to bring the gospel to them?  What would happen if we truly believed that we bear the presence of Christ to every person we encounter, in every home, workplace, or neighborhood we enter? What would happen if we saw every conversation as an opportunity to speak words of grace, every interaction as an opportunity to embody Christ’s love for the neighbor?”

 

Prayer by Marian Wright Edelman:

Lord, I cannot preach like Martin Luther King, Jr.
or turn a poetic phrase like Maya Angelou
but I care and am willing to serve.

I do not have Fred Shuttlesworth’s and
Harriet Tubman’s courage
or Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt’s political skills
but I care and am willing to serve.

I cannot sing like Fannie Lou Hamer
or organize like Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin
but I care and am willing to serve.

I am not holy like Archbishop Tutu,
forgiving like Mandela, or disciplined like Gandhi
but I care and am willing to serve.

I am not brilliant like Dr. Du Bois or
Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
or as eloquent as Sojourner Truth and
Booker T. Washington
but I care and am willing to serve.

I have not Mother Teresa’s saintliness,
Dorothy Day’s love or
Cesar Chavez’s gentle tough spirit
but I care and am willing to serve.

God, it is not as easy as the 60s
to frame an issue and forge a solution
but I care and am willing to serve.

My mind and body are not so swift as in youth
and my energy comes in spurts
but I care and am willing to serve.

I’m so young
nobody will listen
I’m not sure what to say or do
but I care and am willing to serve.

I can’t see or hear well
speak good English, stutter sometimes
and get real scared standing up before others
but I care and am willing to serve.

Use me as Thou will to save Thy children today and tomorrow
and to build a nation and world where no
child is left behind and everyone feels welcome. Amen.

change the world

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