My last two posts have been all about discipleship and specifically in reference to the vocabulary in Matthew 28. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you to the very end of the age.” I first wrote about teaching, and then about baptizing, and this week I will address the word “go.”
Go means Go
There have been attempts to change the wording to “as you are going” or “having gone.” I must confess at the outset that I am by no means a Greek scholar, and in fact I have only taken the minimum requirement of Greek for my degree programs. This much Greek does not make me an expert translator, it only makes me dangerous when I try to change the way almost every other translation committee in the history of English translations has chosen to translate a word or phrase. Since most English translations (make that almost all English translations) use the word “Go,” I really see no reason why I would not do the same. You may have a really good argument for translating it a different way, and I do understand the language enough to know there is some room for that, given the verb form in the original, but we cannot get so bogged down into the details that we miss the big idea that requires some aspect of going. Any attempt to change the translation to make the word mean something other than an intentional movement toward biblical disciple making is not a valid translation. We must go make disciples!
As I write this, I am on a plane headed to Richmond, Virginia for a meeting at the headquarters of the International Mission Board (IMB). Cross Church has sent me there to work towards a partnership between the IMB and our Cross Church School of Ministry. We want to help the IMB train missionaries because we believe in going. I appreciate this churches commitment to missions, and I appreciate the SBC for a long-standing commitment to missions. I became a Southern Baptist because I was born into a Southern Baptist family, I will remain a Southern Baptist because of our mission sending enterprise. I could care less about denominational politics and brand loyalty, what I am interested in is being as effective as possible in reaching people for Christ. I believe that the IMB is one of greatest mission sending agencies in the history of Christianity. In 1845 the SBC was formed under some very embarrassing circumstances of which we are now greatly ashamed, but in the midst of that scar in our history, we cannot miss the fact that the fist thing that newly formed convention did was to form a foreign mission board, immediately followed by a home mission board. The SBC exists for and because of missions, and if ever we deemphasize going, my loyalty will be going elsewhere.
The Missionary Call
It is easy for Christians to treat foreign missionaries like they are some sort of God sent evangelistic navy seal, but they are just regular people. The only difference between you and them is context. We are all just as called as they are, but they just do the work in different places than us. Our existence as Christians and as the church is a missionary existence. We are all called to be missionaries, and we must all go make disciples!