~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Commissioned! (part 1), by clicking here.
It’s a good thing to be commissioned. It’s a good thing to know your commission and to be walking in your commission. In fact, when something isn’t operating according to its commission, we call it “out-of- commission.” We don’t want to be out-of-commission Christians.
It’s also important to know what your job is. Your commission is your job description. When you know your boss’ expectations of you, it becomes much easier to meet their expectations. Similarly, having “clear and consistent” expectations for your children’s behavior is essential to successful parenting. In terms of teaching and learning, educational research has shown time and again that when teachers have high expectations of students, those students achieve greatly! When you have clear, consistent and high expectations for your students, children or employees, they achieve them.
Recently an Australian researcher compiled data on 80 million students and 159 different generalized ways researchers had tried to positively in uence their growth and learning. Do you know what the most effective way to cause student growth was? It was when students had their own learning expectations! High expectations from a teacher cause students to learn, but the thing that causes them to learn even more is when they’ve internalized those expectations for themselves! Similarly, knowing your Christian “job description” isn’t enough—the power is in what YOU THINK the job description is. You will always do what you think your job is.
A commission is a job description. For example, an NFL football team is commissioned by their coach to win their division and then hopefully go to the Super Bowl. A salesman is commissioned to make sales. A teacher is commissioned to teach their subject matter. But what are we commissioned to do as Christians? What is our job description? is is a very important question and to get the answer we must look at the Great Commission! According to the Gospels, our Great Commission is as outlined:
• Go everywhere
• And, everywhere you go, preach the gospel to every creature
• Make disciples of all the nations
• Baptize those that believe in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit • Teach them to observe all things that I (Jesus) have commanded you
We also see that these signs should follow those who believe:
• Cast out demons
• Speak with new tongues
• Pick up serpents
• If you drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt you • Lay hands on the sick and they will recover
Often we avoid seeing things because we want to deny them. Avoidance is a characteristic of denial. Some of us might not want to step on a scale. Some of us might not want to talk through our marriage or our parenting. When we want to deny the need to act, we avoid seeing what we don’t want to act on. Don’t be sheepish about it—look at the Great Commission! Really think about the signs that will follow those who believe. Look them square in the eyes and don’t let your gaze depart from them.
We also tend to average out the parts of our job description. We think, “I am honoring to my boss, pleasant to my co-workers and I have great ideas.” But what about the speci c tasks you were hired to do? Would you be hired again for each speci c task? e Bible is clear that we should do EVERYTHING as unto the Lord! Everything does not mean in aggregate. It means individually, task-by-task and item-by-item. We should go through each part of our Christian job description and ask ourselves if we are carrying out each element with excellence as unto the Lord—such that we would be gladly hired again.
It is worth noting that many Christians take the Fruit of the Spirit and make that their job description. e Fruit of the Spirit is the “style” in which we operate, but it is not the “what” of our job description. Imagine having someone in your office who was great at customer service but they spent their time chatting with customers when they were supposed to be bookkeeping. e customers may like them but they’re not doing their job!
It is really important that we know our boss’ job expectations of us—what he or she considers success. We have been given a commission – a job description and we need to execute it to the best of our ability, line-by- line. James 1:22 says, “but be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” If we hear the Word, but then don’t walk the Word out in our lives, very rarely will we get “Word-caliber” results. If you think you are doing what the Word says and you don’t get results, you deceive yourself into thinking you shouldn’t trust the Word! As it relates to the Great Commission, don’t think “been there, done that, didn’t work!” Don’t be disillusioned concerning the Commission!
ere is no secondary Christian job description. God is not going to transfer you to a different department! ere is only ONE Christian Job Description. Every Christian has the same job. at’s not to say there are not ve-fold ministers for the equipping of the saints for the works of service (Eph. 4). Some people will be called to minister to the Body of Christ to equip them for their job, but they also have the same Commission.
Some of us might struggle with keeping the Commission before our eyes, so let’s look at Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the de led and unbelieving, nothing is pure …” Have you ever met someone who seems like they just can’t take anything well? To them, everything that they receive as input comes with baggage. But, to the pure, all things are pure. What does pure mean? Have you ever had pure orange juice? It has no additives and no baggage! To the pure, all things are just what they are! e context of this scripture is Paul writing to Titus, instructing him to set order to these churches and put the elders in place. He tells Titus to particularly watch out for the circumcision party because they are big on things like special days, genealogies, types of meats, circumcision—all eshly things—when really, meat is just meat and a day is just day.
According to this verse, the ones who are pure are opposite of those who are “de led and unbelieving.” So, you’re pure when you believe in Jesus and you know what He did for you on the Cross! When your identity is set straight in Christ, all the other stuff is JUST WHAT IT IS. Why? Because you are not looking for your identity in your interaction with a co-worker or feedback from someone. To the pure all things are pure— there’s no baggage with these things. e feedback is without baggage. It just is what it is!
When you start looking at the Great Commission like this, there are going to be metrics that start coming up in your head. God wants them to. Jesus said, “If I don’t do the works of the Father, don’t believe Me.” James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Measurably more! Move the needle. It’s real people, really healed! It’s real people, really led to the Lord. It’s real people, really discipled!
But, in addition to the metrics, condemnation can also come into our minds. We don’t want it. Absolutely zero condemnation. In looking at the Commission, we should be no compromise and no condemnation. So, what’s the difference between correction and condemnation? It turns out that the difference is in the heart of the hearer, not the voice of the giver. It should be effortless for the Word to talk with us when we remember who we are in Christ!
If you stat to feel stuck in condemnation, here are three scriptures that form a pathway right out of it! Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Your righteousness in Christ is COMPLETELY TOTALLY and ENTIRELY INDEPENDENT OF YOUR OBEDIENCE! When you believed in Jesus, it was HIS OBEDIENCE that made you righteous! Now, 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us how to use Rom. 5:19 in spiritual warfare “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” If you are condemned because you don’t measure up, you point the accuser of the brethren to Jesus and say, “Look at HIS OBEDIENCE!”—that’s where my obedience lies! What’s the result? Look at Romans 8:1 and 3 “ ere is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus … for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the (our) esh, God did …” at’s it! God did it! REMEMBER, our Christian Job Description (our Commission) has NOTHING to do with our identity in Christ! e great commission is not “the great commission for righteousness … to earn righteousness!” It is just the Christian job description!
In wanting to be transformed concerning the commission, the rst stage is denial / avoidance. Look at the Commission and don’t let it depart from your eyes. Don’t gloss over it. Don’t average it out (aka justify yourself). Don’t claim that it doesn’t work because you’ve tried it half heartedly before with correspondingly poor results.
e next stage can be condemnation. At this stage, remember it is important to not let your identity get wrapped up in your job description. To the pure all things are pure. If you are looking at the Commission and you think “I don’t do any of this.” OK, that feedback is PURE. ere’s nothing more to it. It’s just data. It’s just feedback. It’s not your identity. Don’t get your identity from your job; you get your identity from Christ, and then you help people.
e third stage is to embrace the tension. You want to look squarely at the Commission and the things that will follow and feel the tension that says, “I don’t see that” or “I don’t want to do that.” You stay in that tension and say “I know, my heart’s going to change, but I am not letting it depart from my eyes until I see my heart change to line up with the Word because that is my standard!” Be careful not to throw a pity party for yourself and go back into condemnation in the midst of the tension. Understand that we are prone to use condemnation as a cop-out. You are not victimized because someone or the Word told you the truth! Stay in the tension – you can do it and you will be changed! You begin to actually have faith rise up in your heart for the scripture you are keeping before your eyes!
We are going to do the Great Commission with zero modi cation AND zero condemnation! Commissioned! It’s a good thing. e Commission has NOTHING to do with your identity in Him. It has everything to do with a job that needs done. Keep it before your eyes and we’re going to build from there. Amen!