Jesus commissioned his disciples to go out into all the earth and make disciples by teaching the nations what He first taught them. But what exactly does it look like for the church to fulfill the Lord’s command? I surmise that most people define the Great Commission as a call to spread the good news about the person of Jesus and the works He performed. Moreover, when churches envision carrying out the Great Commission in their local context, they often emphasize conversions and discipleship. While it is true that the Great Commission involves verbal proclamation of the gospel and the intentional discipling of new believers, limiting the Great Commission to preaching and teaching truncates what God has called us to accomplish through this mandate. We need to add actions to our words.
Not only should we care about the spiritual well-being of the nations, we must also care about physical well-being of the nations as well.
My contention is simply this: If we limit the Great Commission to preaching and teaching, we make the mission of the church strictly about salvation and spiritual formation. However, a holistic fulfillment of the Great Commission must include a concern for the entire person—both soul and body. In other words, not only should we care about the spiritual well-being of the nations, we must also care about physical well-being of the nations as well.
There has been debate within the Church on the nature of its mission. Some schools of thought within Christianity have argued that the Church’s mission is only spiritual—namely, that it is only called to the ministry of the word, prayer, and the administration of sacraments. The Church is not to seek cultural transformation through social justice. This doctrine is called the “Spirituality of the Church.” Others have argued that the scope of the mission of the Church is not only to concern itself with spiritual matters but also with whatever form of oppression people may endure. This view makes social justice and cultural influence essential to the mission. We call this position Transformationalism or Neo-Calvinism, and the logic of Jesus’s Great Commission supports this position.
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