If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, then you understand the journey the Lord has taken me on. You have seen the new seasons and paths to which He has directed me and Mark, and I've tried to be as honest as I could about my questions, as well as my convictions. As you know, we are entering a new season of learning what it means to be a True Disciple of Christ and to be a member of what I will term, "the True Church".
What has been perhaps the most surprising part of this journey is just how simple [to understand] Jesus's commandments to us, yet how difficult they are to carry out because we've never been encouraged to do them ... Throughout my church experience I heard references to "the Great Commission", but never once was it elaborated on, beyond the message to "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor". And that's not even what Jesus categorized as His Commission! Until you read, word for word, His precise explanation [in Mark 16 and Matthew 28], I doubt you will even know what we are called to do. And I imagine if you have watched the movie I recommended, The Last Reformation, then your world has been rocked.
Well, I'm here to tell you that I am no different than you! And guess what? Neither were the Twelve Apostles! Jesus called ordinary men to follow Him to show us that it is possible for all of us! And if you have made the mistake of elevating Peter, John, Matthew, James the son of Zebedee, James the son of Alphaeus, Andrew, Simon, Bartholomew, Thaddeus, Philip, Thomas, and Judas Iscariot as extraordinary, exceptional men at the time they were called to follow Jesus, then I assure you that they only became extraordinary when they were baptized by the Holy Spirit [into the power of God] to carry out the Great Commission. And if you are having a hard time accepting their "ordinariness", then I will let Jesus prove it.
As I am slowly progressing through the Bible [again], I saw something that I had skimmed over the other times I read it, but which now leaped out at me. Shortly after the Passover meal in which Jesus announces that "one of you shall betray me", He proceeds to tell the Disciples that He will only be with them a little while longer (John 13:33) ... Little children, I am with you [only] a little longer. You will look for Me and, as I told the Jewish religious leaders, so I tell you now, ‘Where I am going, you are not able to come.’
So, I want you to notice how He addresses the disciples ... the same men who have been with Him for three-and-a-half years; who have watched Him do the miracles; and who have sat at His feet receiving the teachings that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him; who have heard Him say that He only does what the Father tells Him to do, or what He sees the Father doing. He calls them Little children!
I am going to borrow from a sermon I heard Bill Johnson give once ... although the Twelve had been with Him for several years and seen His works, they still did not understand! We don't read about very many successes they had in imitating Him, and He gets frustrated with them at times, calling them an "unbelieving and perverse generation" (Luke 9:41), and calls out their lack of faith, asking, them, "Why can't you understand?" (Matthew 7:7-11). So, the whole time they were with Him, they didn't really get it!
Here's what I see in that verse: By calling them "Little Children", Jesus is telling us that they are just infants in their faith, Baby Christians, if you will. They have yet to grow into a spiritually mature believer who is advanced enough to represent the Kingdom of God. But He offered them His grace, and He knew they would grow through obedience. Did He decide they were unworthy to carry forth His message and works, and then dismiss them? No! He opened their minds to understand Scripture and told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them with power, and then they would be able to carry His Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth.
So, I submit to you, that you are no different than those twelve ordinary men who made a decision to follow Jesus. They had moments of doubt and fear. They made mistakes. There were many times they didn't understand what God was doing in their lives; and I'm sure there were days they wondered if they were doing His will or fulfilling their purpose. They didn't suddenly and miraculously become Pillars of the Faith. But they knew Jesus offered something they couldn't live without. And so they trusted Him in their lives, remaining obedient to their calling.
I will agree that it is more difficult for us because they could touch Him and hear His voice, and actually watch Him do what He calls us to; and we are separated by a distance of over 2,000 years and a couple of heavens. But the calling is the same... His is the Way to follow [with all that He did]; He is the Truth that overcomes the Enemy's lies about who we are; He offers a Life that transcends these earthly bonds; and He is the Light that shatters the darkness that threatens to overcome us. And He has shown us that He wants to use ordinary men and women -- fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and adulterers -- to reveal the power of God's goodness over the evil of the prince of this world. He has shown us that ordinary people can defeat Satan by healing the sick, and casting out his henchmen, the demons, and taking back territory among the souls of men. He has shown us that the Power and the Love of Heaven can invade this earth, and it can come through us!
All you have to do is be willing to say, "Yes, Lord!" And I will tell you, it is absolutely a journey; and for some it may take longer than the three-and-a-half years it took the Twelve, but just as with them, Jesus will be with you every step of the way -- teaching you, correcting you, encouraging you, and bestowing His Power and Authority, that you might become a conqueror, just as He was.
So, never think that you don't match the qualifications of those early saints. Each of us, on acceptance of Him as our Savior, have the opportunity to receive the power and authority from Heaven, and to do the works Jesus and His Apostles did. I will tell you that there was something inside me that responded to the first time I realized what the Great Commission really was. And the first time I listened to the experiences of others who were being obedient to this calling on all of us, I never looked back. The Holy Spirit communed with my spirit and I knew it was right! So, I urge you to trust Him and just be ready to obey. He will answer your willingness with His Love, give you His Authority and Power, and you can walk in the shoes of a Son or Daughter of the Most High God. Just take that first step of your journey ... tell Him your heart longs to walk in His footsteps, and that you want to learn how to be a true Disciple. Then watch your identity change as you enter into one of the most glorious seasons of your life on this earth!
Jesus, Himself, says, By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. What better way to love another than to set them free of sickness and demonic oppression, and then share the Gospel of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, baptizing them in Jesus's Name and setting them free from their sin? After all, that's exactly what Jesus did, and taught His first disciple to do, isn't it? And the Bible tells us that whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.
2 Peter 3:18 But grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.