This devotion is one sent to Lutheran CORE for inclusion in their "40 Days of Prayer" series whose purpose is to prayerfully "pave" the way toward the opening services and events that will culminate in the creation of the North Americal Lutheran Church (NALC).
Matthew 28:17-20 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Devotion: The story is told of a small girl returning home from Sunday school who expressed disappointment with the class’s reaction after the day’s lesson. “We were taught to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations,” she said, “but we just sat there!” I share her disappointment and frustration. Why do we talk “about it” but we don’t “do it?” The text tells us that Jesus’ commanded and promised this ‘great commission’ in the midst of praise and doubt. And so it goes even today. Doubt is not the enemy of faith but a part of being a fallen sinner. If we wait for our certainty we will certainly continue to sit. John Kanary says, “If doubt is challenging you and you do not act, doubts grow. Challenge the doubts with action, and you will grow. Doubt and action are incompatible.” Is this just a bit of conventional wisdom or even power of positive thinking or does it tell us something about those whom Jesus commissions? We are the faithful---worshipping Him---we are the fallen---doubting Him. I was told in seminary 25 years ago that Jesus didn’t really say this; that it was later conjured up by those forming the church and formulating the Trinitarian doctrine. So be it. I wonder how that is working for all of those who have decided to doubt God’s Word, listening to human scholarship based on opinion rather than acting in faith according to Jesus’ command and promise. The Historical Critical Method was meant to be a tool that has been used repeatedly as a weapon by those who have been commissioned to spread seeds of doubt, decommission action and lead the charge on deauthorization of Jesus’ sole position of authority over us. As Thomas Fuller reminds us, “He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.” There are numerous examples in our contemporary context that witness to those who claim to be working for the church of Jesus Christ but sit in positions of authority boasting of and boosting sin at the expense of sinners robbed of the gift of repentance and the call to action by Jesus Himself.
It is quite simple and straight forward-- either you believe Jesus commanded us to make disciples and teach them what He first taught us and to obey Him, not powers and principalities, or you don’t. If you don’t believe it, you have a reason for not doing it. If you do believe it, then not doing is just an excuse or failure to act—sin worthy of repentance and forgiveness. Whatever the reason is that you remain seated, hear now Jesus’ call, commission and promise: “I’m asking you to do it. Tell my story and I seal your action with my promise to be there till the very end.” Wouldn’t it be great if we just did it and came to realize that the doing is church?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Decommission our sinful selves in holy forgiveness and recommission us by your Holy Word to do that which you have commanded. .. . making disciples of you and not ourselves, teaching them what you first taught us and not what we would think up, and to obey You and no other authority that claims leadership over You, God’s Living Word. Amen.