“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
The Great Commission of Jesus above must have been read by all Christians. The term was introduced by an Austrian evangelist, Justinian von Welz (1621–88), and popularised by Hudson Taylor, almost 200 years later. Jesus gave the command that all nations should be made disciples of Him. What exactly did Jesus mean? Does He command us to Christianise all people in the world or does He command us to invite people to come to our church?
The term “Christianisation” is a sensitive term for non-Christians. History shows that various countries have experienced bad events when Christianity was introduced to the society. Various methods of evangelism are used, including some bad ones. Currently, this term still often creates tension among religions. What is our real motivation when it comes to preaching the gospel?
Indeed, the main task of Christians is to spread the gospel. Therefore, many Christians passionately desire that other too can be saved. Because of this, it is often seen in various media that there are various speeches, writings and recordings that are “loud” and attack people of other religions or with different theology. Is that okay? The Bible states that even if the cause is good, evangelism must be carried out in a good way because otherwise chaos and hatred will arise.
“The purpose of that advice is love that comes from a pure heart, from a pure conscience and from sincere faith. But there are those who do not reach that goal and who go astray in vain talk.” 1 Timothy 1:5-7
Paul in his letter to Timothy stated that to bring others to salvation, believers must be able to give true advice. He explains that if we are trying to bring others to safety, it must be done without giving rise to pointless debates that lead to chaos.
The purpose of the exhortation is to express love that comes from a pure heart, from a pure conscience and from sincere faith. Not based on hatred, dislike, or self-interest. Thus, the purpose of preaching the Gospel is to express our love to those who do not know God, so that they will realize how great His love is, who gave His only begotten Son to atone for the sins of those who believe. Therefore, everyone who then believes in God will have His love. Those who sow God’s love will reap love and not hate.
Indeed, there are those who say that the ends justify the means. Those who have good intentions should not hesitate to act. For Christians, of course, the goal does not justify the means. If the goal must be good, so must the means to achieve it. This is not easy to do because often people are ambitious to achieve good results in the shortest possible time and in the easiest possible way. Indeed, there is a sense of satisfaction and perhaps a sense of pride if success can be felt without having to wait for long. If the church is full of visitors, they think that it is a testament to their evangelistic success.
In Acts 8:26-40, an Ethiopian eunuch who was on a horse-drawn carriage trip to Jerusalem complained to Philip that he could not understand what he was reading unless someone helped. Philip, who with God’s instructions, was able to meet the eunuch, then had the opportunity to sit side by side in a horse-drawn carriage and explain the meaning of God’s words so that the eunuch finally understood and asked to be baptised.
Philip had indeed carried out the commandment of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 above. However, without the Holy Spirit everything will be in vain. Philip needed the Holy Spirit to choose a certain path that would allow him to meet the eunuch. It was also the Holy Spirit that enabled Philip to communicate with the eunuch. And it was the Spirit who guided the eunuch and opened his heart and mind so that he believed and wanted to be baptised.
If growing the number of churchgoers can be done by anyone, the reason is that there are people, like Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, willing to listen to God’s voice in their lives and open their lives so that the Holy Spirit can work freely. In other words, humans can become disciples of God not because of their own efforts. Even if we work as hard as we can, we ourselves cannot make other people become disciples of God. The all-knowing God calls those whom He wills. All we can do is spread the gospel and live according to God’s command so that everyone around us can see God’s love.
“So let your light shine before people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
The true task of Christians in fulfilling the Great Commission is not to force people to become Christians nor to persuade them to come to our church, but to share the good news and God’s blessings with those who live in physical and spiritual drought, so that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit they will answer “yes”. This task, although it will not bring everyone to salvation, can make many people understand the principles of life and ethics based on the love of Christians. They will also be able to see that as Christians we are also active in enforcing the law, defending the weak and establishing social justice in society.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 8