Discipling the Nations

source: sigoya.com

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…~Matthew 28:19 (NKJV)

“The highly individualistic nature of contemporary Western culture has led to the interpretation of this passage as though it said ‘Make some disciples in each nation.’ No doubt this meaning can be validly deduced, but it does not represent the meaning of the words. According to the words of the great commission which we have, the task of the disciples of Christ is to disciple the nations, to make the nations disciples.”[1]

“Nationality implies shared experiences and relationships, specific ways of doing things.”[2]

I’ve always been fascinated at how whole societies of individual people take on a personality as though it was just one individual. For example, Canada, as a whole, has a “personality” that is very distinct from the USA, or any other country. Millions of people, who live together, share the same experiences, think the same way, act the same way, have the same history—it’s no wonder that when we take a big step back, and look at the whole nation, we see what looks to be one individual.

This is just the way it is. When we are all together we start thinking and acting the same way. This is why God did what He did at the tower of Babel. And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”~Genesis 11:6-7 (NKJV)

It was really an act of mercy for God to scatter those people. Their disobedience against God corrupted the whole, because they were all together. If God would have allowed that situation to continue, things would have gotten so bad that He would have had to kill them all, like in the flood, or at Sodom and Gomorrah. But by scattering them He was able to separate a special people for Himself to do His saving work in the world, which is what He did with Israel.

In today’s world we are once again becoming a unified society. There doesn’t even have to be a “one world” government, we are being unified through a “one world” economy, a “one world” media, a “one world” everything. Perhaps Jesus will return when our world, once again, becomes like it was before the flood, or like it was at the tower of Babel: unified against God.

So, as a missionary in Cambodia, when I think about this fact about groups of individuals acting as one, do I want to think only of leading some individuals to Jesus, and then just hiding out in a small little church for the next 30 years?

Or do I need to see the bigger picture, and see Cambodia as one: one nation, one “person” who is called to be a disciple of Christ?

If I want the latter, then…

“(The word of God has to) pass into all those distinctive ways of thought, those networks of kinship, those special ways of doing things, that give the nation its commonality, its coherence, its identity. It has to travel through the shared mental and moral processes of a community, the way decisions are made in that community. Christ is to become actualized–to become flesh, as it were—as distinctively, and may I say it, as appropriately–as when He lived as a Palestinian Jew in the early first century.”[3]

I pray that the Holy Spirit takes this nation of Cambodia and fully penetrates it with the whole message and power of the Gospel.

[1] The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Culture and Conversion in Christian History by Andrew F Walls
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid.

Click here to read our January 2012 missions newsletter.

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