One of the most quoted parts of Scripture is the Great Commission, “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 have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20) Less known is that in the original Greek the word “go” is actually a participle. It should more accurately be translated, “as you are going.” While this may seem like an insignificant detail, it changes the whole flavor of the call.
When people hear “go,” they think of leaving where they are to go and do something. “As you are going” means in the midst of everyday living. Think about it. As you are going to the grocery store, make disciples. As you are going to work, make disciples. As you are going on vacation, make disciples. As you are playing golf, make disciples. As you are having dinner with friends, make disciples. As you are working out, make disciples.
The second part of the call, “make disciples” is often misinterpreted also. Too many people hear it as a call to convert people. While the command doesn’t preclude telling others about Christ, it is really a call to make followers of Christ. That is, anytime we are moving people in the direction of God, whether they are currently Christians or seekers or atheists, we are obeying His command. I love what St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” This gives life and breadth to the command. The call is to constantly by my actions, in my demeanor, and with my words move people toward God. No longer can I use the excuse that I am not called to be a missionary. This is a call to live the totality of our lives in such a way that we are constantly drawing people toward God. Zero degrees of separation between who we are on Sunday and how we walk on Monday.
Some may hear this as a burden. I hear it as freedom. Freedom to walk with God, and live for Him everywhere, instead of thinking we are missing His call by not going somewhere. He desires to use us “as we are going.” The umbrella that this call encompasses is huge, covering everywhere you and I will go this very day. And so, consider this expanded paraphrase of the Great Commission: “As you are going, wherever you are going, be constantly moving people toward God, encouraging them by word and deed to follow Him, knowing that He will be with you every step of the way.”