What does it mean to be a Christian?

Jan Antonsson

God's Love

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

February 10. 2019

Neosho, MO

“Let everything that you do be done in love” (I Corinthians 16:14, Phillips).

Our on-line discussion group recently pondered what “The Great Commission” means for us today.  It is arguably the hallmark, the prime directive of Christian service. Mark said simply, ‘‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, ESV). Matthew fleshed it out:  “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV).  

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples before He ascended into heaven.  I wonder if this call on their lives may have seemed to them to be a “mission impossible” since they, for the most part, were uneducated fishermen, physical laborers, simple men.  Surely by now, though, they understood what He meant when He told them He would make them “fishers of men,” but how were they to do it?  By what power could they possibly make this happen?

Perhaps I’m projecting my own insecurities onto them, but the human condition is pretty much the same today as it was then.  When given a task beyond our strength, our financial means, and our understanding, we all need a divine imperative, a voice of authority telling us to do it, because then, we who have walked with Him for awhile, know by now, that if He tells us  to do something, He will provide what we need to do it.

When we first got on the Internet with The Glory Road Website, we had countless requests from the Saints in Africa asking for money to buy Bibles, feed the orphans, help a struggling group of believers in tiny villages who often didn’t have flush potties or running water inside their huts.  Lenny and I were on our own mission from God, and while we had a nice 5th wheel roof over our heads and food on our table, we never had surplus cash.  Lenny, who was older and wiser in God than I, knew that God would provide for what He assigned us to do, with no worry about the rest.  But I felt the need to say something to these supplicants who had begged for our help in such emotional, lyrical language, using compelling words to express their dire needs.  So, I replied something like, “Silver and gold have we none, but such as we have, give we thee,”  adding, you may use anything on the website that seems helpful to you, but we can do nothing further than that.  

As you’ll recall from the account in Acts 3, Peter and John did give the man begging inside the Beautiful Gate of the temple a life changing gift, something more valuable to him than silver or gold, declaring,  “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God (Acts 3:6-8, ESV).   Here was a man, lame from birth, not only walking, but leaping and praising God.  That really gets my spiritual juices flowing and I think of it every time I see someone struggling with a physical handicap.  How I long to lay hands on that person and proclaim those words of healing to him or her.  How long, oh Lord, must we wait to see your power in action once more, I wonder.

But back to the Great Commission, we are told to go, to preach the Gospel to every creature. One member of our group does have the ability and expertise to go forth on the mission fields.   Most of us do not have the ability nor the call to do something so spectacular.  So, our discussion was what to make of our inability to answer Jesus’ call. Was it given just to the disciples, or is it for us as well?  Are we expected to share the healing powers with those in need as the Apostles did?  What exactly does God expect us to do about this mighty call from Christ our Lord to go forth and carry His Good News to all in the world?

A very close friend and a member of this discussion group made this statement which perfectly expresses the answer to the question posed by this essay:

“Some who try to fulfill this Great Commission commandment today are bringing anything but that. (What’s GOOD about people telling others there’s a hell waiting if they don’t accept?) Personally though, I think, as the Life and truth of His redeeming heart grows and expands within us, we cannot help but proclaim His Good News as we just go about our daily living.  I don’t think it’s speaking chapter and verse to folks as much as just letting His Love shine through us.  We can take no credit for it.  We are just the hose watering His flowers and maybe a weed or two as His Living Water rushes through. I’m definitely not implying that missionaries are wrong to “answer their call” because I don’t know what God spoke to them,  but I do feel we will less and less separate this is a God thing, from, “this is my daily living thing.  You may have wanted to be a “dynamic evangelist,” but it’s not in our doing but in just being that we will proclaim Who and What He is to all we meet.  We can’t help it.”  End Quote.

My friend’s succinct expression of what it means to share Christ, our prime directive as Christians, fits together with Paul’s proclamation that, “God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, ESV), which reveals to us that we don’t share Christ with the world. He in us and through us does that.  Jonathan Mitchell’s translation of I Corinthians 16:14, the verse quoted at the beginning of this piece, is “Let this continuously occur: all of you folks [be] in union with Love.”  It is because we are in union with God who is love, and He with us, that we are empowered and energized to carry on.   

The prophet Jeremiah is the perfect example of this kind of union.  God said to him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart.  I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV). Called from his mother’s womb, he had the odious, difficult, dangerous task of prophesying to the children of Israel that their sins were going to cause God to violently deport them to Babylon, because they had broken the Covenant He made with Abraham and were whoring after other gods.

Needless to say, the people listening to this didn’t like it, nor did the Priest Pashhur, the chief officer of the House of the Lord who heard Jeremiah’s prophecy.  He beat the prophet and placed him in the stocks overnight. This did not close Jeremiah’s mouth.  Instead, the next morning, he said to his tormentor, “The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror On Every Side. For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword.

“Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon.

And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely’  (Jeremiah 20:3-6, ESV).  I shudder to think how I would react to a call to deliver a message like this.

Jeremiah was not referred to as “the weeping Prophet” for nothing.  He wept; he despaired; he felt sorry for himself often, and who could blame him, but instead of capitulation, he could not help but utter these incredibly powerful words,  “If I say, ‘‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’’there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot (Jeremiah 20:9, ESV).   However, considering all the punishments, indignities, imprisonments and degradation he suffered as he delivered God’s word to Israel, he could have been known as the prophet who tore out his hair and ran screaming into the night.  God gave him grace to stand what he had to in order to deliver God’s message to Israel.

No matter the consequences, the embarrassments or the possible loss of friendships, we ourselves can’t help speaking His name, or sharing by our actions, the very Good News of His unconditional love and unending grace with those He puts in our path.  We don’t get any credit for it, as my friend said, because in reality, it is Christ’s love in us flowing out as living water to all He sends our way.  What a Father we have, who has gifted us in Christ with grace, mercy, kindness, continual forgiveness, and unconditional love! This, I believe, is what it means to be a Christian.  God gets all the glory and we get a front row seat to watch Him at work.  To Him be the glory, world without end.

Father, we thank You for choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world, for calling us your children, and for Your mighty power which flows through us when You have a job for us to do which is beyond our puny strength.  We love You and when Your fire burns in our hearts, we cannot but speak of You and Your great love for every last one of us.  Now and forever, we join our voices with “the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”  Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 to the present are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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