In my last post I made mention that ‘Go’ kicks off the Great Commission and that there are some disagreements about the translation of this word.
I think both are right. Granted, my Greek is not nearly good enough to justify my answer but let me give some examples to show why I believe it’s both and finish with what I think it means for disciples of Jesus Christ. two examples, Jesus and Peter:
Jesus, in Mark 5, crossed the sea, brought healing to a man with an unclean spirit, sent him to go and proclaim what God had done for him, got in the boat, and returned to the other side. Jesus went out of his way to meet this guy. Jesus did ‘Go’.
Jesus, in John 4 is walking through Samaria, sits down at a well, meets a woman, shares about the kingdom, she runs to her village and brings them to Jesus and many believe in him. Jesus did ‘as you go’.
Peter, in Acts 10, has a dream about a man called Cornelius, travels to Caesarea, shares the gospel with Cornelius (along with his friends and family) and they all come to faith. Peter did ‘Go’.
Peter, 7 chapters earlier in Acts 3, is walking to the temple to pray, meets a lame man at Beautiful Gate, heals him, which leads to a lot of praise to God which attracts a crowd so Peter breaks out with a mini-gospel message. Peter did ‘as you go’.
Jesus and Peter did both. They intentionally went out of their way to share the gospel (‘Go’) and they shared the gospel with those they came across (‘As you go’). They did both because it could mean both. With an attitude that says, “People need to hear the Good News”, the gospel is intentionally shared deliberately through planning and circumstance.
The problem with translations is that the translator needs to make a decision which way they will translate a passage, a sentence or a word. The vast majority of translations use the more forceful ‘Go’. That’s a great translation but it does lose something which ‘as you go’ keeps. If ‘Go’ is too forceful then it’s seen as something separate from ‘make disciples’. When ‘make disciples’ is kept at full force then ‘go/as you go’ becomes how we do it. If we overemphasis ‘go’ we end up sharing the gospel, getting a ‘yes’ response and then doing nothing else. Churches then end up with lots of converts but no disciples. People holding tickets to heaven but no life-transformation here on Earth.
When we emphasis ‘as you go’ we move away from the need to get out of our comfort zones, to cross seas, to travel to distant lands or even to enter into our communities and look for those God has already prepared to hear the gospel. ‘As you go’ can become an excuse to sit in church each week and play safe because ‘God didn’t bring anyone across my path this week.” Churches then end up with lots of well fed Christians that are fat on the Word but poor on the application. They know the truth but the truth fails to set them free. Truly knowing is applied knowledge. For that, we need to ‘go’.
We need both ‘go’ and ‘as you go’. When we embrace both views we develop outward attitude that says, “I’m intentionally sharing my faith whenever, wherever.” We pray for the circumstances to share and we plan to create circumstances to share. We pray for opportunities we pray for open communities. We embrace both views and build that into making disciples. We teach everyone to share. We expect everyone to share.
So what could this look like in your setting?
Let me suggest a simple idea that starts with ‘as you go’ and moves toward ‘go’.
In your small group (please tell me you belong to a group where you discuss your spiritual journeys) always finish with a prayer like this: “Father, throughout this week, how many times would you like me to share the Good News?” Listen to what he says and share the answer with your group. During the week look for opportunities to share the Good News that number of times. Seek to be obedient to what God is calling you to do. ‘As you go’ share.
If you find that you consistently share that number of times each week then praise God for your faithfulness and his faithfulness for bringing those people across your path. Keep up the good work. As they respond positively disciple them (not forgetting to help them to ‘as you go/go’ too). I don’t think anyone who believes in ‘Go’ will say anything negative about what you are doing. I am sure that they will say you are fulfilling the Great Commission.
However, if you find that you do not find people to share with then discuss this with your group. Perhaps you have fear of sharing the gospel and are not seeing opportunities. Grow in that area. Have the group help you to see with whom you could share. Maybe start with those whom you know. Draw an Oikos map of all those you know and look at how you could share with them. Seek to grow beyond your fears and live out the Great Commission.
Perhaps you are trying and still nothing is happening. In that case you may need to try ‘Go’ instead. In seeking out to ‘Go’ you could organise a PUSH into an area in your neighbourhood or into another town or suburb. Recruit at least one other person to go with you. If you aren’t ready to take the lead then join someone else who is doing it and partner with them.
When we start sharing then we will make sharing a core component of making disciples and then those we are training will start sharing too. Imagine your church where everyone is sharing the Gospel each week. Imagine yourself out sharing each week? Does that thought scare you or excite you?
Let me know how you get along. Do you find yourself consistently sharing the Gospel or is this an area for growth? Do you prefer to share ‘as you go’ or do you like the idea of ‘go’? If you don’t have someone to help you grow in this give me a yell and I’ll be happy to help. I’m not too good at this myself so we could help each other to grow.