The Great Commission and You (Matthew 28:19)
In the Great Commission, Christ commanded His children to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Great Commission applies not just to missionaries who take God’s Word to far-off lands, but to you and me right here and right now where we live, work, and play. This fact presents you and me with a difficult challenge. The people we work with, socialize with, and live near don’t necessarily want to hear the Gospel message. In fact, Christians often feel like a sheep in the midst of wolves in today’s increasingly secular world.
The secular world can be a difficult environment for Christians who want to live according to God’s Word while also sharing the message of the Gospel. Jesus knew this would be the case. This is why in Matthew 10:16, Christ told His apostles to be “wise” and “innocent” as they went out to spread the gospel “in the midst of wolves.” This is good advice today for Christians who live, work, and socialize in a secular environment.
The secular humanism, moral relativism, political correctness, and anti-Christian bias that permeate American culture can make everyday life a stormy sea for Christians to navigate. As a result, some Christians are tempted to hide or even set aside their beliefs when interacting with unbelievers. My message for Christian brothers and sisters who are tempted to hide their faith in order to fit in or to avoid ruffling the feathers of unbelievers is simple: Don’t Do It.
Not only can Christians survive in a secular environment, we can thrive. The key is to heed Christ’s admonition in Matthew 10:16 to be both “wise” and “innocent.” Being innocent in this context means being faithful to the teachings of Scripture. Being wise means adeptly applying what Scripture teaches in ways that point unbelievers to Christ without condemning or rejecting them.
The most effective strategies for spreading the Gospel among unbelievers meet two criteria. First, they are Biblically-correct. This means they accord with the teachings of Scripture. Second, they show unbelievers a better way without judging or condemning. Remember, you cannot lead people to Christ if they won’t follow you. Making unbelievers feel defensive or guilty will not encourage them to follow.
My advice to Christians for spreading the Gospel among people who may not want to hear it is to remember that the most effective sermon you can give them is a good example. This is important because unbelievers are always looking for chinks in the armor of professing Christians—inconsistencies between what we claim to believe and how we live.
People who are impressed by your example of consistently living out the teachings of Scripture in your daily life are more likely to be open to hearing about what you believe and why. Here are some things you can do to set an example that is “wise” and “innocent,” one your secular friends, colleagues, and neighbors will find worth following:
Be honest in all situations. Tell the truth even when it does not benefit you to do so. Exemplify the fruit of the spirit in your example: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
Keep your promises. If you say you will do something, do it. Learn to promise small and deliver big.
Show others what it means in practical terms to love your neighbor as yourself. When people are hurting or fall upon hard times, be quick to help.
When someone needs to talk, be willing to listen.
Personify the Christian work ethic on the job, in volunteer situations, and in neighborhood projects.
When it comes to carrying out the Great Commission, preaching isn’t the only way. A consistent Christian example is a good sermon that can be given anywhere, anytime, to anyone.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com