June 7, 2020
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 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 lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
- The Gospel text for Trinity Sunday is the famous “Great Commission.” Jesus said “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (King James Version). Jesus is sending you out as his mandate for all followers.
- Making disciples is the main goal of the church. And on Trinity Sunday we are reminded of the power of the full Godhead: of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- It is why all of your churches were established long ago. It is what we should always be doing and never get distracted. It is my duty as your bishop to keep this “main thing, the main thing” as you move into the future. Jesus send you and I say: “Go-Sow-Lo!”
- The first word of the Great Commission is “Go.” Those are the first two letters in the word “Gospel.” It is impossible to keep it for yourself if you truly have experienced the saving power of Christ in your life. You’ve got to go and tell!!
- Forgiveness, new spiritual life, and the promise of heaven is the fantastic news that the whole world needs to know. The church alone brings these everlasting promises to the world.
- In the Book of 2 Kings 7:3-10 is the account of some lepers who were starving to death during a siege of Jerusalem. The Syrian army camped outside of the city and did not allow food to come in or people to go out. Lepers were ostracized because of their contagious skin disease, so they were desperate enough to go out to the camp of the Syrians to see if they could possibly get help. They reasoned that they had nothing to lose since they would die in Jerusalem if they continued to do nothing. Off they went to the camp. They were shocked to find that the enemy soldiers had vacated the premises and they were able to help themselves to all the food and riches they wanted. After a while, they said to one another, “What we are doing is wrong. This is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, we will be found guilty, therefore let us go and tell the king’s household.” This they did and everyone got fed that day.
- We have more important news than where to find food. We have the spiritual “bread of life” in Jesus Christ that we should not keep this a secret.
- The lepers remind us: “if we are silent we will be found guilty.” Where can you go to share the good news of Jesus Christ? Go where people are most separated from the love of God. When the stay at home order is lifted go to prisons and hospitals and nursing homes and remote mission sites in the world. Go to young people and children and people that don’t look like you. Go with the simple truth that in Christ there is life, real abundant life for all people. Tell your story and don’t forget to invite people to receive Christ.
- “Go” takes on a whole new meaning right now during this pandemic. We can go to food banks with our food. We can go on line with Facebook and YouTube with messages about salvation. We can go to our law-makers by phone and cry out for the rights of people who are working in difficult places of employment right now with little income. We can go and check on our lonely neighbors by email or phone.
- The gospel message always has with it the gospel of love. There are many ways to “go” an spread good news in word and deed.
- I like the King James Version of the “Great Commission” because it emphasizes the “sowing” of the Word of God. It says two times that we are to “teach.” We are to teach all nations: that means everyone.
- We are to teach people to observe all of Christ’s commandments. In order to teach something you must first know it. I remember volunteering to teach ice-skating to a deaf-blind teenager. The only problem was that I did not know how to ice-skate myself but I volunteered because the girl wanted so much to do it. So I had to go and practice first. In like manner we need to learn what Christ has commanded us through study of the scripture.
- Are you in a Bible study? You can never stop learning this book. The insights are many and deep and the fruit of it comes in real life-changing ways when we obey its commands. So learn all you can and then go and “sow” the Word. The best way to make disciples is to teach.
- We need to be like the sower in the parable, (Matthew 13) who with great abandon tossed seeds of the Word everywhere, on good ground and bad. Some of the sown seeds fell on good ground and produced an abundant crop. Some did not. We are asked to sow and God will send the rain and the sunshine. Teaching brings great joy because you are sharing in the very heart of the ministry of Christ when you do.
- During COVID-19 we have many opportunities to teach and sow the word of God through our Bible studies on line. I am thankful for the churches that are “sowing the word” with a children’s time each day, by reading a religious children’s book or telling a Bible story. Some of our churches continue to hold youth group events by ZOOM, and are sowing the word among our teenagers. Such good work and so many new and creative possibilities are before us.
- In the King James Version of the Bible it says “lo” in many places but we don’t say the word “lo” in modern times. It is an old English expression which is an abbreviation of the word “look.”
- The expression “lo and behold” literally means “look and take a good long look.” In the Christmas story it says “Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them (the shepherds). When Jesus says “Lo, I am with you always” he is saying “Look! Take notice, pay attention, I, Jesus am with you always.”
- We often don’t stop and look and take into account that Jesus is with us as we do his work of evangelism and teaching. Instead, often we act like it is all on our shoulders and we push ahead in our own strength. When we do that it begins to feel overwhelming and then fear, doubt and apathy sets in.
- How many of our evangelism committees have this heaviness about them? That is because we don’t “look” around and see that the Savior’s power and presence is with us.
- The Apostle Paul reminds us in the letter to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) He wrote this from a prison dungeon with none of the comforts of life except for the offering that the Philippians sent his way. The empowering presence of Christ was strength for him as he continued his ministry even from a jail cell.
- Call upon the Lord for help! Remind yourself of the overcoming and all-powerful-presence of Christ that is available to you as you do the work of the Lord. It is not easy work, persecutions and sacrifice are a part of it but Jesus is there to help.
- We should also strive to be the presence of Christ for people in need. When they “look” at you they see Jesus as you do his works in this world.
- Last summer I went on a Mission Trip to Red Bird Mission. As we were bringing in supplies one day I heard a child comment as we came in: “Jesus is here.” What a humbling, awesome thing to hear. We get to bring Jesus as we serve. May people see Jesus when they look at you as you do the work of Christ here at the church and in the community.
- Please be about the work of evangelism now and into the future when things are opened up again. and I will close with the “Go-Sow-Lo” song (I made this up. It is a bit corny but it sums things up)
“Go” to everyone on earth
“Sow” the Word, the Holy Word
“Lo,” the Lord will undergird
“Sow” the Word and preach new birth
“Go” and do not be afraid
“Lo,” the Savior meets your need
“Sow,” the debt of sin is paid
And preach Christ as Lord indeed
Go-sow-lo, go-sow-lo, go-sow,