But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped [Him]; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 NASB
It is here at the Eleventh Station of Light that disciples (followers) are commissioned to become apostles (sent out). Maybe the biggest difference between the earlier missions in Jesus' public ministry and this Great Commissioning is the setting. It is the very last will and testament Jesus is making in the first Gospel.
Although many churches take this passage on as their purpose, I wonder how many Christians really see themselves as apostles, their lives as a mission field? Perhaps some denominations have this down better than others. As we tout following Jesus as the end of our faith, could it be that we are actually enabling others to avoid God's call?
Those who study faith development will tell you that a certain stage in our growth can really benefit the institutional church, its many programs and policies and committee work. Clergy have a real interest in keeping people in this phase because it is so friendly with fitting in, belonging to, and even conforming to others' expectations. In this phase, belief is static and equivalent to ascent, or agreement with, certain core doctrines. Once you've done that, you're in!
But to be congruent with God's expectations, we need transformation. The transformation word is of course very trendy and popular. The process itself is often painful, not easy or clean and tidy. But deepening faith and love will require us to see how our call and gifts differ from the norm and even from what's popular. Belief here is willingness to take a journey, trusting and loving God in Jesus, an ongoing relationship with all of its peaks and valleys. If we miss that in the Great Commission, we have missed what is truly ours for the taking- the chance to be apostled by Jesus.