Devotional: Making disciples

Published 9:56 am Sunday, July 9, 2023

“19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

Matthew’s words come at the very end of the Gospel. They are referred to as “The great commission.” Jesus is telling his Disciples, and us, to spread the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection and the conquering of the consequences of sin. This message is indeed the very good news that we humans need to live without fear of death. They tell us that we should be living in a hope that is sure and firm. God loves us and wants us all to know that and seek a happiness in this life secure in the knowledge that earthly death is not the end.

Unfortunately, in an America where many facets of the day-to-day workings of the Christian Churches have been assigned to “professional Christians” (i.e. those who are paid by the larger “main street” congregations) many people are missing the joys of proselytizing. In the 21st Century, most lay people believe that teaching the good news is a minister’s or Priest’s job. It is not only sad it is counter to Jesus’ direct instructions. 

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I know that many do not want to be one of “those people” who try to guilt people into coming to church. I not only know, but also agree. However, if we do not impress upon others the pure joy that we have by accepting Jesus’ awesome gift; we are missing even more joy. 

Scottish missionary, Lesslie Newbigin, recalled an experience in a small community in the country of India. He spoke to a tribal council, explaining to them God’s plan for all creation. When he finished, the council talked for a while and asked him to return. The spokesperson looked at Rev. Newbigin and said, “We always hoped that God was like this. We’ve been waiting to find this God.” Newbigin left that night with “a joy that he never felt before”. That day he realized that part of God’s plan was for humanity to participate in the joy of opening others’ eyes.

God intends our proselytizing to be a joyful occasion for all Christians. Especially us!

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at