(Author's Note: This is the final part of my series on Trust God. This was inspired by our VBS program and an idea recommended by Rev. Phil Schroeder and someone who is a gifted clergy. If you think the ideas of Vacation Bible School are for kids, think again. This has been one of the best series I've ever done for my own faith.)
Last words are important. They may not be well thought out but they are important.
Author, Oscar Wilde said with his last words, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” Adventurer Marco Polo said, “I have not told half of what I saw.” Actor, dancer and golfer Bing Crosby was quoted as saying, "That was a great game of golf, fellers." In true comedy fashion, Groucho Marx said, “Die, my dear? Why that's the last thing I'll do!”
But at 88 years of age, John Wesley spoke some of the most profound last words I think I’ve ever heard of. It was, Wednesday, March 2, 1791. His last words were spoken twice, with great fervour, "The best of all is, God is with us." He lifted his arms and said again, "The best of all is, God is with us."
They were words spoken with assurance, passion and conviction. When you think about his life, the starting of a new movement in Christianity that would become the Methodist Church, you can see how his words were grounded in the same last words of Jesus. It wasn't just in his head – he believed God was with him and Wesley lived accordingly.
Take a moment and read those last words of Jesus that Matthew recorded:
Matthew 28:16-20 (NKJV) 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
When those first disciples were living alongside Jesus, being a disciple was a common expression. Other teachers also had disciples and they were learning to be like their teachers. Jesus even pointed this out when he said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40 (NKJV) Being a disciple, at its core, is about becoming imitators.
We are to become like Jesus AND we are to go everywhere inviting other people to be like Jesus, baptizing them, guiding them, and teaching them. Jesus didn’t want people to just believe a certain way. Jesus didn’t reduce, “…faith to mere mental assent to correct doctrine…” as Dr. Maxie Dunnam once observed. Jesus was saying it was about our heads and hearts, our bodies and our souls
To go into the world, means being transformed people, being people who are starting to look like Jesus, live like Jesus and love like Jesus. To go into the world means going out of our country to places like Ecuador like our youth team or going to Indonesia like Pete andAshley Greenwald who are missionary pilots our church is supporting.
It also means going out of our comfort zones too. It means that in our neighborhoods, our schools and our workplaces, we look, live and love like Jesus too. It doesn’t mean you become someone else but that you imitate Jesus as only YOU can do! It does mean you have to trust in Jesus as only YOU can trust in him!
In 2008, our family was the first family in the start of the United Methodist Church in Paulding County. Were there other churches people could go to? Sure, but we were going to start a new church for the purpose of making disciples. We were following Jesus’ last words. And like Wesley, we had reason to believe God was with us. We still do. But new churches aren’t the only place disciples are made.
The Great Commission does not apply more or less to me because I'm a pastor than it does to you…and you…or to anyone. This has been a misunderstanding in the church regarding pastors as the one to do the “work.” It is for EVERY Christian to be going into the world to make disciples. Disciples are made at VBS. Disciples are made at a lunch meeting. Disciples are made at a business network meeting. Disciples are made in a doctor’s office. Disciples are made in the school cafeteria. Disciples are made hiking the trail or hunting in the woods.
Disciples are made with an invitation. You don’t have to know everything to extend and invitation and you don’t have to know everything to respond to one. What you must remember is no matter what, no matter where you go…Trust God for it is God who is inviting you and me to be like Him. And what He starts, God will bring to completion!