what part of go…?

on taking the great commission seriously

I don’t know where it came from or who first said it, but, somewhere near the intersection of motherhood and sarcasm came the question, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Frustrated at disobedience and a lack of discipline parents everywhere have played the rhetorician. They keep asking a question that requires no answer whatsoever.

Akin to these frustrated parents, missionaries and pastors across the globe have started turning to American churches, to the American evangelical community and are asking a strangely similar question.

What part of ‘Go’ don’t you understand?

Go, as in, “Go…and teach all nations…”

That’s what Jesus told his disciples to do. Go.

For those ex-fishermen, that was the first step, and it would be cool to tell you that they all in unison said, “Yes, Lord.” and went. They didn’t. They waited. They stayed. They got comfortable in Jerusalem. The Lord said go and nobody went, even after He fulfilled the promise of the Holy Spirit.

For those ex-fishermen, the first step was going. The same is true for you and me today. Going is just the first step. Often its the most difficult, and sadly its also the most neglected. Instead of going, we’re staying. We fail before we ever start because we fail by not starting.

The command given by Jesus to his disciples to go to all nations and make disciples isn’t difficult to understand. Yet, we waste time day after day dabbling in semantics and common stereotypes, while churches struggle, missionaries burn-out and people long for the good news of a Savior.

We dabble in semantics because we’ve made going to teach all nations the same as going across the street and inviting our neighbor to church. The stark truth is that they are not the same. Local evangelism only does not fulfill the Great Commission.

No, doctrinally, the Great Commission is not difficult to understand. Jesus came to save the lost. He gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice and then commanded his friends to take his message to the ends of the earth. Every single nation needs the message of grace. Doctrinally, it’s easy. It’s our duty to deliver the good news.

Practically, there are a few more steps involved, but it if we get rid of all the fluff and all of the excuses, it boils down to a question of obedience.

So, I’m calling you out today. I’m pointing my finger at you. I’m daring you to go.

That’s what this is, a dare. This is a call for anyone who follows Jesus to take Matthew 28:19 at face value and do something about it. It’s a call to action. First, it’s a call to go. Sure, you can work at in your own neighborhood and within the comfort of your own community and culture. But, if you do it that way, and only that way, we’ll never get the job done.

It’s time to put your plans on hold. It’s time to stop worrying about little league and whether they have Heinz ketchup in Bangladesh. It’s time to leave the 99 and go rescue the 1. It’s time to make a sacrifice.

Excuses in 3, 2, 1…

I don’t know when or where, but somewhere down the line, disciples started rationalizing and stopped following. People settled in. They got comfortable and began to say, “Not everybody can go.”

Saying that is nothing more than an excuse. It’s walking the party line. It’s what everybody says. It’s what everybody has always said, and it’s exactly what people say who don’t want to go.

Maybe you’ve used, “Not everybody’s called to go. Somebody needs to stay here and take care of things at home.”

I used to say it all the time. I wish that I could take those words back. I wish that I had never uttered them because they just aren’t true.

I used to be part of the problem, singing the same verses along with the rest of the choir, until I was confronted with the difficult question.

What about you?

As I prayed that someone might go and preach the gospel to those who had never heard, one response rang in my ears, “What about you?” I had no good answer, but I had a bunch of excuses.

I liked where I lived. The church that I pastored was growing. Someone else would do a better job. I could do more in America. They just kept coming, and I kept staying.

So, let me put it on the bottom shelf so that everybody can get a hold of it. Let me put it down there for those who say that not everybody can go to the mission field.

You need to go to the mission field.


I’m not talking about just wanting to go. I’m talking about actually going. Having a desire to go doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s too easy. There are too many resources. We’re not talking about taking the slow boat to China any more. You need to go.

The Master looked at those eleven followers on a mountain in Galilee, and in the king’s English he said, “Go ye…” In Alabama he would have said, “Ya’ll, go.”

All of You.

All of you. Not one of them received a special call or alternate instructions. Not one of them was exempt. Each of the eleven bore the full brunt of the command. They weren’t to go alone, but neither were they given the choice to ignore the command, without consequences.

Exempting yourself from the Great Commission is selective service. It’s selective obedience, and it’s also an affront to the authority of the Lord Jesus himself.

So, pop the bubble. Get out of the box. Pray. Find somebody that needs help and go help them.

Start something. Join a team. Get up and go. Quit trying to build your kingdom and start building His! Embrace the obscurity. Join the choir of the unsung.

Missions isn’t mysterious and missionaries aren’t a special breed of believers.