In Parts 1 and 2 of kicking off this new series, “Missional Identity”, I argued that the hole in our Great Commission is the oft neglected call of Jesus to “behold” His incarnational ever-present reality with us on mission. A mouth full to say the least. In more simpler words, Christianity as a whole often focuses heavily on the first 4 actions of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 (Go, Preach, Baptize, Teach) at the expense of the 5th action or demand of Jesus (Behold).
I won’t rehash anything from Part 1 on What? or Part 2 on Who?. You can go back and read them.
Instead, what I want to do to finish this mini series on the hole in our great commission is two things: 1) speak to Why? Jesus demands we behold and 2) provide some practical and biblical examples of How? to behold. I obsess about practical application to a fault. So I don’t want to try and prescribe anything here, certainly nothing that leads to a new law, standard or flavor of spirituality that will in effect prevent us from actually beholding Jesus and His incarnational reality. That would be bad.
Instead, I want to only offer reasons WHY and share biblical examples and stories to show HOW to behold.
In Part 1 and 2, I argue that we lose the call to behold in the Great Commission. And I further point out that what or who we are to behold is Jesus and His powerful presence with us on mission.
Now, I want to talk about Why?
Of course, only Jesus has the right and gumption to actually demand someone behold Him. Jesus demands His followers deeply gaze upon His ever-present reality! How can He demand such an emotional and spiritual reality? I think it’s beacuse of two bigger realities at play in the Great Commission: 1) His glory and 2) our joy.
Beholding for His Glory
Beholding Jesus and the beauty of His power and presence with us gives Him great glory?
Think of the alternative reality: not beholding Him. Forgetting that He is powerful and present. Not acknowledging His power and presence. That’s tragic at best and sinful at worst. If we aren’t gazing upon Jesus, we are gazing upon something else; something lesser, a lesser power, a weaker power, a lack of presence, an unholy absence.
That doesn’t bring Him glory. Our God is a jealous God. He desires our utmost allegiance and worship. He is worthy of all our devotion and love. He will not give His glory to another. He will get what He deserves, namely maximum glory and honor and praise. If we simply do not behold His incarnational reality with us on mission, are we really on mission?
If we simply do not behold His incarnational reality with us on mission, are we really on His mission?
Whose mission are we on? When we forget or willingly choose to behold something/someone else on mission, we essentially tell God “Thanks but I got this” or “I’m alone and hopeless”. Both responses are wrong. One arrogantly says “I don’t need your power or presence” and the other hopelessly says “I don’t have your power and presence.” Both are sadly rooted in an unbelief in the sufficiency and proximity of Jesus.
Jesus knows we desperately need Him to fulfill the Great Commission. And the more we realize we need Him, the more we’ll want Him. Jesus is glorified when we need and want Him. It admits His strength and our weakness. It proves His worth. It shows we trust Him and depend on Him. It proves we take Him at His word. We believe Him.
He declares His authority and power to show our power is insufficient and His presence to show us without Him with us we are nothing. We need both His divinity and incarnational reality. His Godness and Manness. When we behold this dual reality of power and presence, He is greatly glorified.
Beholding for Our Joy
This is much bigger than being a “Christian Hedonist” or parroting John Piper. Our joy is at stake on mission. If we opt for a weaker power and a spiritual absence, we lose joy. Real joy. We get instead a transient happiness solely dependent on our power and our presence. Do we really want to rely on our power to accomplish the mission of God? Is our presence really enough?
Most of our struggles in this everyday mission of life come down to a lack of dependence on our Father’s power FOR our life and presence IN our life.
We think we got this. We’re strong. We can do it. We just need to try harder, go farther, do better, be stronger. Or we don’t need help from anybody, no one, nobody. We can go it alone. In fact, don’t worry about us we can fly solo just fine.
And we thereby do what our father and mother Adam and Eve did that fateful day in the garden: question God’s power to love us and be with us. Is God enough? We can be stronger or better. We can exist and even thrive without God with us. And in so doing sweep all of humanity into death and despair.
In the Great Commission, Jesus takes us back to the original design of the garden: walk with God in His power and presence. How can we go if we go in our own power? And, how can we go alone?
We forget these two realities of power and presence. So, in His grace and truth Jesus calls for us to behold. To gaze upon. To look at. To listen up. To focus in on.
And living by His power in His presence will fulfill our joy. Joy because His power is sufficient and His presence is secure.
We must take heed Jesus’ words and behold His with-us reality if we want to joyfully obey the Great Commission. In OUR power and presence, we simply cannot fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus.
We must make much of Jesus, both His power and His presence.Without Jesus working FOR us and walking WITH us, we are worthless and wandering.
Whose power do you rely more on?
What keeps you from depending on Him?
Do you believe Jesus is for you? With you?
What are you beholding that is capturing your gaze and notice? Why?