The Great Commission: Obey? Yikes!


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 This piece is from Forward Today, the regular email newsletter from Forward Movement and was written by Executive Director Scott Gunn 

I’ll be preaching this week, too. My intention is to preach about the Gospel lesson, the Great Commission. Jesus sends his followers out, saying “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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).
If you’re going to hear me preaching this Sunday, spoiler alert: I love how Jesus doesn’t just tell us to make disciples, but he tells us how to do it. Yes, that involves baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. But it also involves something that might make us moderns a bit uncomfortable: we are to teach people to obey everything that Jesus has commanded .
These days, I think most of us like to focus on possibilities and entitlements. Commandments aren’t fashionable. And, yet, there it is. If we are going to make disciples, we need to teach commandments. If we ourselves are to follow Jesus, we are to obey commandments. Obey? Yikes!
But what are the commandments of Jesus? You can find various lists online. They certainly include the commandment to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors. There are many more. We are to forgive others. We are to repeat Jesus’ last meal by celebrating Holy Eucharist. We are not to store up treasures on earth. We are to love our enemies.
These are not easy–impossible even–to obey all the time. As we say in our baptismal covenant, we do these things with God’s help. As Sunday’s Gospel reminds us, God abides with us always, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Which of Jesus’ commandments come easily to you? Which ones are challenging?
Let us commit afresh to following Christ’s commandments. In obedience, there is great joy.
Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe’s new book is Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices—a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith.
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