One of the things that’s important for us to remember when we were going through a time of deep crisis, as we have over the last 20 months, is why we do things that we do. What is the reason that we continue to strive to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the place that He’s called us to in Piscataway and out into Middlesex County? Our church’s purpose statement reads, “Making Disciples, Teaching God’s Word, Glorifying God”. I would like to take the next three blogs or so to break down that statement and see how we are seeking to follow the mission statement of NDC during these difficult times. The first part of that statement is “Making Disciples”. This is based on Jesus’ closing words in Matthew’s gospel where he states, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age”, (Matt.28:17-20 NIV). This is frequently called the great commission passage. The whole power of heaven’s love, wisdom, and strength rest on this challenge of Jesus to His early followers. They have been given authority to make a difference and change the world that they encountered in the first century. Jesus was speaking these words to about 500 people, who would take this challenge to heart and bring the message to as many places as they possibly could.
The grammatical challenge in this passage consists of four verbs with one imperative tied to three accompanied participles that amplify the force of the primary verb. The principal verb is not “go”, but rather “make disciples”, which in the Greek language is an aoist imperative, which speaks of a specific call or definite decision. The ultimate goal of Jesus for His disciples was that His life is reproduced through them into the lives of others. Ministry is not just about making converts, it is about making disciples. Towards this purpose as we began to reopen the church last spring, we have continued to focus on ministering to those that have been placed under our care. First, we made our streaming services available to those who did not have access to a computer and invited them to join us live. Then our Sunday evening services started in May 2020, even though the state said we could only have a certain number of people in attendance. This all culminates this weekend when our Sunday school classes, which are one of the training grounds for making disciples, reopens Sunday morning for the first time in 19 months. These are some of the training and teaching arms of the discipleship ministry to which God has called us.
Over the course of my ministry here at NDC, I have discipled a significant number of individuals in their walk with the Lord. Some of these people are in heaven today, while others have moved on and continue to serve the Lord in other locations. Sometimes I get discouraged with the transient nature of ministry at NDC and yet this is what God has called us to do, invest our lives and ministry in developing disciples who reflect the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus shared the words of this challenge was He saying that the work should be done by just the 11 men nearest Him? Was He expecting that the work would be done in their lifetimes? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding “NO”. Surely you and I have a responsibility in every age to take up the same baton and pass it on from generation to generation. My question to you is, “What are you doing to help make disciples who reflect the image of Jesus into our world?”
In Christ’s service,
Pastor Rich Sivo