A strange thing has happened since Jesus first told his disciples that he would always be with them. The promise of Jesus’ presence has been separated from his command to go make disciples of all nations.
The Lord is with his people always and everywhere. But, have you noticed how often the promise of his presence is to those he commissioned to do his work (Joshua 1:9)?
When we consider what we call The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), we see that Jesus is sending his church to make disciples of all nations. Then, he promises to be with them. That doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t among the nations until the church goes. It means that Jesus is going to every corner of the world, and to every tribe, tongue, and nation, and the church is to follow him there. There, he is with us.
Christians follow Jesus in obedience. This is a matter of the heart. We profess our faith in Jesus, love him, and observe all that he commands as we live for his glory. The church follows Jesus to places on the map. We follow him, with the promise of his presence, to make disciples of all nations.
Historically, the geographic starting place for following Jesus to the nations has been different, depending on how and where the Spirit of God was working. Jonah went from the land of Israel to Nineveh. From Jerusalem the church followed Jesus to Antioch. From Antioch, the church sent missionaries who followed Jesus to Asia and Europe. Modern sending movements from England, America, Africa, and Asia have reached around the globe. The church is always going from one place to another because the Spirit of God is always working in an ever-changing world. New technologies make it possible to go to the nations in new ways. One thing remains: to follow Jesus is a matter of the heart, and it includes going with him somewhere.
Of course, it is not possible for every Christian to follow Jesus to another culture or country. It is possible for every Christian to belong to a congregation that is praying for, supporting, and sending others to the places that need disciple-makers. It is possible for every Christian to follow Jesus to some place and to some person right where they live. Jesus is always going because his vision is for grace to extend to more and more people, that thanksgiving will increase to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15). Faith is for following Jesus, and we follow Jesus wherever he goes.
Jesus will be with you wherever you go. Have you considered where he might be calling you to follow him today?
We will be considering these things Sunday as we worship the Lord and continue our series on the Foundations of Grace. Will you spend time this weekend praying for Grace and one other congregation in our city?