“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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV)*
“Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 3:49)
When Mary and Joseph found him in the temple, Jesus was doing what he was supposed to be doing for someone only twelve years old: talking with the temple teachers about Jehovah, the Law, and the Prophets. Even though he later became a carpenter like Joseph, Jesus was already about “his Father’s business.” At age 30, he was baptized in the Jordan River and the Holy Spirit fell on him (Luke 3:21-22). From that moment, Jesus Christ was “about his Father’s business.”
For the next three-and-one-half years, Jesus taught the Word in synagogues every Sabbath and prayed on mountaintops every night. He preached to people on hillsides, in homes, and by lakes. Jesus also healed people wherever he went. His final act, in a natural body, was dying on a cross for people’s sins. After the resurrection Jesus still taught, prayed, preached, and healed!
First-century Israel didn’t have radio, television, internet, movie theaters, or professional sports. [Rome had sports, but early Christians were victims rather than spectators.] If it did, I don’t think Jesus would have watched or listened to what we do. “Roll Tide” wouldn’t have crossed his lips! Jesus didn’t play games or relax the way we do either. He would have rested shortly only for a meal, restroom, or nap and then continued on his journey. At each moment from his baptism to his ascension, Jesus went “about his Father’s business.” His spiritual life had no fat!
The lives of Jesus’ disciples (later apostles) were the same after the ascension. They also taught and preached the Word, prayed, and healed. Every day after Pentecost, the apostles taught and worshipped in the temple, broke bread in one another’s homes, and prayed (Acts 2:42, 46). They healed and delivered the people they met as they went “about their Father’s business” (3:1-8, 4:30, 5:12-16). This is why “the shadow of Peter” was so powerful in healing the sick (5:15). He was anointed by the Holy Spirit and his spiritual life had no fat!
After his conversion and anointing, Paul was the same. He taught and preached the Word, prayed, and healed – not only in Jerusalem but also in Greece, Rome, and Asia Minor during four missionary trips. Paul was the first to take the gospel “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Unlike other apostles, he reasoned with people in synagogues every Sabbath (18:4, 19; 19:8).
Paul also had a day trade as a tent-maker, to avoid being a burden on disciples he stayed with during his trips (18:3). Did this trade distract him from being “about his Father’s business”? No. Paul taught the Word morning and evening, making and selling tents in between. At no time was he lazy. God blessed this strenuous schedule so that Paul’s work aprons healed the sick and delivered people (19:11-12). Anointed by God, his spiritual life had no fat!
When believing widows were neglected in daily need distributions, the apostles chose seven deacons to oversee “this business” (Acts 6:1-5). They didn’t want to “leave the Word of God and serve tables” (6:2). Yet the chosen men were “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (6:3). Not only did they “serve tables,” they also worked “wonders and signs” (6:8). As a result, “the Word of God spread” and many became disciples of Jesus Christ (6:7). Anointed by God, the apostles and deacons went “about their Father’s business.” Their spiritual lives had no fat!
Church history is filled with believers who translated and preached the Word of God, making disciples both in their hometowns and “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Some also healed and delivered people. Whether or not they had a day trade was irrelevant. God blessed their work because they removed spiritual fat from their lives and went “about their Father’s business.” We wonder why we don’t have their successes. The reason is simple. We’re spiritually obese!
Divine anointing is vital if we want to succeed in the Great Commission, “the Father’s business.” We must each tarry in our Jerusalem until we are filled with spiritual power (Luke 24:49). We must also remove the fat.
Paul said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27). How many of us say “no” to the body and “yes” to the Holy Spirit? Too many Christians rest before they’re tired. Instead of witnessing, healing, and praying alongside their day trade, in their “off” hours they play golf, watch sports and movies, and attend “Christian” dinner theatres. Then they wonder why they have no divine power. Their lives are full of fat and they’re not willing to cut it off. Some of us need a liposuction!
Millions of people around the world are entering hell every day while the church is playing. Whether or not we have a job, inside or outside a church, our lives should have few “off” hours. We should also fill those hours with the Great Commission, not a hobby or sport. Christians today don’t need to watch or learn a professional game, or catch the latest film in a theatre. They need to learn instead how to pray, study and apply the Bible, and witness. Some Christians should also learn how to send email and use a social network. The Internet is a mission field. When we remove spiritual fat from our lives, only then will we receive divine power.
I don’t know how much paperwork the apostle Paul had to provide before his first overseas journey. But in the nearly two thousand years since Paul began his ministry, it seems that most denominations and ministries have developed what they consider to be a biblically-based bureaucracy. . . .
When they asked me . . . when I had received my call . . . I said, “I read Matthew 28.” They thought I had misunderstood the question. They explained that a special calling was required before someone could go into the world and do this kind of work. . . .I responded, “No, you don’t understand. I read Matthew 28 where Jesus told his followers, ‘GO!’ So I’m here trying to go.”
That prompted a thirty-minute explanation about the distinction between the call to salvation and the call to ministry. What was required, I was told, was then a call to take the gospel into the world, and perhaps a fourth call to a specific place in the world. Then they asked me what I thought about what they had said.
“Well, it appears to me,” I told them, “that you all have created a ‘call’ to missions that allows people to be disobedient to what Jesus has already commanded all of us to do.”
Jesus never says if or whether you go; He talks about where you go! God may give instructions about the location—the where. But there is nothing to negotiate about the command to go—God has made our primary task perfectly clear.
– Nik Ripkin, The Insanity of God (2013) [edited]
* All Scripture verses are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.