Your heart burned stronger, your eyes filled with tears, and suddenly, it seemed that everything around you was a confirmation that you should go to that people or nation to preach the gospel. As you take the first steps towards the call to go to unreached people groups, the first doubts begin to arise. Where should I go? What does it take to go? How, when and why should I go?
Almost every answer to these questions is in the Bible, and today we are going to talk about the last commandment that Jesus left before he ascended to heaven - Go!
Of all the biblical texts we call “The Great Commission,” perhaps the verse in John 20:21 is the most different and profound.
At the time, Jesus had just risen from the dead. The disciples were hiding, locked in a house, afraid of the other Jews, when Jesus appeared among them, showing his wounds from the crucifixion and assuring them that death had been defeated. Then Jesus commissioned his disciples, saying: Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
This is the Great Commission of the gospel of John, where Jesus sends his disciples to the world. But he doesn't give any details. In this text we have no instructions on how this should be done, no guide, nor a step by step walkthrough. The only parameter we have is that we must be sent in the same way that he himself was sent by the Father.
Stop for a moment. Read verse 21 again and realize the meaning of Jesus’ words.
He is saying that we, his Church, are sent to the world in the same way, with the same characteristics and with the same mission that he had when he was sent to us.
How was Jesus sent?
The answer to that question is also the answer to how we have to be sent out into the world! This helps us to define what we should do, how to do it, why we should do it and what we should not do. Our mission needs to be defined by Christ. We need to look at him to know how to obey him. We need to look at the world, life and our mission with a “Christ-centered” mind - which means Christ at the center.
The principle of humility
See what Paul says in Philippians 2, verses 7 and 8: “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature "of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”
When Jesus was sent by the Father, he had to empty and humble himself. He made that decision to obey the Father, and that is the decision that every cross-cultural worker needs to make to obey his call. Whether for a short-term trip or a long-term trip, you need to renounce your own culture.
You also need to be willing to accept a completely different culture, with a lifestyle totally foreign to you, and learn everything from scratch. When we go to a new culture, we need to go the same way that Jesus came to the world, as a child. It may take a long time to learn, assimilate and "incarnate" in the culture, relationships, the way of thinking, dressing, communicating.
Jesus did this and the apostle Paul did it too, as we see in 1 Corinthians 9:22: “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
This is the principle of emptying yourself, giving up your culture and acclimating to a new culture. In this way, the message we carry becomes clear, coherent and acceptable.
The principle of the priestly mission
In the Old Testament, the Priest's role was to intercede for the people, bringing their sacrifices and petitions to God. Jesus did that too, interceding for God for people and calling out to them.
Jesus incarnated and came into the world, but he did not begin his ministry immediately. Before beginning to preach the Kingdom of God, he was baptized by John the Baptist and then went to the desert to fast and pray. That's how he started his ministry, and throughout his ministry we see Jesus investing time in prayer.
As we are sent to a nation, we also have this “priestly role” in interceding for people, praying and crying out for the salvation of those who are suffering without Christ. We can't just come in and start preaching. Before talking about Jesus to someone, you need to talk about that someone to Jesus. Pray for the people you want to evangelize, know your needs and present them before God.
The principle of submission to the Holy Spirit
Jesus did not come with a closed schedule of what he should do here on earth. Of course he knew what he came to do, but he always submitted his "agenda" to the Holy Spirit.
All the time Jesus was submissive to the Holy Spirit. He did not let the routine demands take control of his mission. Often he even knew what was going on in people's heads without them opening their mouths. Although he was the God of the universe, the King of kings, he was there, incarnated and totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.
We see the apostles following this principle of submission to the Holy Spirit, like Peter when confronting the sin of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and the church in Antioch, when they fasted, prayed and received the revelation that they should send Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13).
It is important to focus on submission to the Holy Spirit and not your flesh, reason, or intellect. Instead, pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is commanding and trust He will do the job.
The principle of prophetic mission
While the role of the priest was to speak from people to God, the role of the prophet in the Old Testament was to speak from God to the people. Jesus, in his prophetic mission, preached the gospel and called people to repentance, and it is this same message that we must preach.
In order to do that it is necessary to open your mouth and speak! It is not necessary to have a special gift for this, or to take an oratory course, or to be a professional “preacher.” We prophesy when we share our testimony, telling what God has done in our lives.
Prophesying also means talking about the life of Jesus, who he is and what he did. Even if it attracts persecution or is embarrassing for some people, this truth needs to be proclaimed. Jesus did this, he spoke about who he was and what he came to do. But remember that he first incarnated, prayed, fasted, submitted to the Holy Spirit, and in the fullness of the time began to preach the gospel. What is the fullness of your time?
The prophetic mission is speaking and also living the gospel. If we speak but do not live, our words become empty. Jesus preached, but he also loved people. He demonstrated this with his eyes, his actions, his attention to people. He did not directly point out people's sin, but he showed love, and through his love they were transformed.
The principle of discipleship
Jesus preached his message, and those who heard and responded to it were brought close to him. Jesus walked with them, invested time with them and made them his disciples. Later, as we see in Matthew 28, Jesus sends his disciples to make new disciples of all peoples, teaching them to obey everything they have been taught.
Many people confuse this commandment and end up teaching what Jesus taught, but the mission here is to teach people to obey what Jesus taught. True discipleship consists of walking together and showing what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, not just teaching theological concepts.
If you want to be sent to the unreached people groups, you need to be willing to walk with people, bring them into your home, eat with them, show them how you relate to others, how you face problems, how you react to the most varied situations in life.
Discipleship requires time, patience and money. It requires your life, actually. But this is the best legacy you can leave in your entire ministry. What would have become of Paul if Barnabas had not walked with him?
Have you put these principles into practice?
To be sent to unreached people groups, we need to look at the life of Jesus, the one who was first sent. These principles help us to look to Jesus and align our mission with his.
Which of these principles have you been practicing?
Which ones do you need to spend time putting into practice?
The harvest is ready and the workers are few. If you are being called for the harvest, do not leave your city without being clothed in the Holy Spirit!