Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus challenged 11 men to get on mission with Him for the sake of His Kingdom.
He commanded them to make disciples of people from every nation, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey the law of Christ. These 11 men had very few resources, they had little education, and they found themselves in the middle of a Roman Empire that wanted to destroy them, but they had the Holy Spirit and they were on mission.
I am sure many sensible people told them that the task in front of them was impossible, but they were on mission. Many of them, because of this mission, traveled hundreds and even thousands of miles from their homes; many of them were crucified for their faith and their work for Christ; many of them were stoned.
In fact, in one way or another all but one of them were brutally murdered for their obedience to this command of Christ, but they were on mission. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could stop them.
Eventually, their numbers grew and other believers joined them in this mission. Even Caesar, the most powerful man in the world, could not put them down. Jesus had promised that He would be with them and by the power of the Holy Spirit He was with them.
It is easy to forget that that is where First Baptist, and where your church came from. In a world where most of us had the Gospel at our fingertips from the time we were born, in a world where the most persecution we have ever faced for something we believed probably came from another person that called themselves a Christian; it is really hard to identify with the early disciples.
It is easy to forget that like them we are on mission, we are on a serious mission, a mission that we have been called to by Christ. Today, we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of education, and we find ourselves in a country that is very sympathetic to the cause of Christ.
And yet, with all of this, the church in America is failing at the mission.
Here, nearly 2,000 years after the Great Commission was given, 40 percent of the world is still unevangelized, our churches are declining in numbers, and society is looking less and less to the church for answers.
It is really easy for the church in this environment to hold on to what we have, hoping that we do not lose anything else, but we cannot have this kind of attitude. We cannot afford to be safe. We cannot afford to sit still. We have to be on the move -- we have to get on mission.
Church life can often be frustrating because it often seems that we spend more time arguing with one another about small things than we do making disciples. We have an enemy and it is not our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is Satan and he is not sitting still. He is on the move and he wants to destroy the Church and the life of believers.
If we want to move forward, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to take the Gospel forward. We have a great enemy and we must be relentless.
My prayer for our churches is that we would be on mission, focused on what Christ has called us to do no matter what. We must all be committed to give and to remain focused on heavenly things, not on earthly things.
Therefore, as a Christian leader in this community I want to publicly commit to throw off the things that easily entangle and to strain forward for the things of my Lord. I pray that you would join me in this and let's together, unified, get on mission to make Jesus great in all the earth, for the sake of His glory. Amen.
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com or www.facebook.com/jasondees.