“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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
At Renewal 2027 – Transformed by the Word: Reading Scripture in Anabaptist Perspectives in Augsburg, Germany 12 February 2017, the YABs committee (Young AnaBaptists) reflected on Matthew 28:19–20 from their local perspectives. The columns in this section have been adapted from their presentations.
I grew up in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, where Christianity was brought to my ancestors along with civilization and commerce. In that context, I never felt obliged to pass on the message of Christ to anyone.
The Great Commission was for the elite – those who were ‘‘called’’ to do so. As a member of the body of Christ, I simply had to do away with sin, read the Bible, pray and wait to get into heaven. Spreading the message was the obligation of those who brought Christianity to our churches in Zimbabwe. A missionary was someone whose skin was lighter skin than mine; who spoke in a language that was regarded as superior to mine because it had no clicks; who had come from a place far way. I never thought there would be any need for a black man or woman to even think about being a missionary.
A command to follow
Today, I realize that once you have repented, you have an obligation to fulfill, a command to adhere to, and that is to tell others about Jesus Christ.
As Christians, once we begin to follow in Jesus Christ’s footsteps, we also desire to love like him, to live like him, and above all, to share about the kingdom of God just as he did when he walked this earth. Our duty is to help the lost by introducing them to Jesus, so that he can save them.
My understanding of Matthew 28:19 is centred on the fact that the Great Commission is a command to every follower of Jesus Christ. And this command is instrumental in the expansion of the kingdom of God.
Making disciples is an action process that calls us out of our usual routine. It involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you will have to approach strangers and tell them about Jesus Christ. In my country, the reception varies. If you attempt a one-on-one form of sharing the message of Christ, you may be mistaken for a thief or someone who has nothing important to do. In my context, you might share the message of Christ at crusades or outreach programs where the response is usually positive.
Making disciples also means that followers of Christ are not selective about whom we share with. The gospel is for everyone. There is no segregation when it comes to the message of Christ, neither those sharing it nor those receiving it: Jesus Christ instructed us to go and make disciples of all nations. Regardless of race, tribe, language, gender or age, you are never too young or too old to tell someone about Christ.
Our perception of others and our view of their world should never affect our decision whether they are worthy to receive the message of Christ. You can never be either good enough or too bad to receive God’s grace – it is a gift. The Holy Spirit will transform each person as they walk their journey of faith.
As you walk on the face of this Earth, are you adhering to Christ’s command? Once we all understand that this is a matter of eternal life and eternal punishment, we will be vigorous in our quest of making disciples, with the goal to tell as many people as we can about Jesus Christ. If you are being selective as to whom or where you will preach the message of Christ, think carefully and pray, because the kingdom of God is open to everyone!
—Makadunyiswe Ngulube is a member of the YABs committee (Young AnaBaptists). She is from Mount Pleasant Brethren In Christ Church, a congregation of Ibandla Labazalwane kuKristu eZimbabwe in Harare in Zimbabwe.