by Michael E. Brooks
“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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19).
My latest travel arrangements to Nepal and Bangladesh were the most efficient I have yet had. I had only two stops between Nashville, Tennessee, and Katmandu, Nepal, with a total elapsed time of about 32 hours, 24 of which were actually in the air. This compares very favorably with previous itineraries which averaged 42 total hours and 28-30 in flight. Wear and tear from travel was definitely lessened and the trip more enjoyable.
I am sometimes amused when people ask about the length of the travel. Almost invariably they comment on how long and tiring it is and how they “don?t know if I could stand such a long trip.” I understand their concern, but it is amazing how much we take our modern transportation for granted and how quickly we forget what travel was like just a short time back.
For instance a missionary going to Asia perhaps two generations ago traveled by ship and required perhaps two weeks for the journey. Several decades prior to that, travel was by sailing vessel and took months. These trips also entailed much more danger, discomfort, and hardship. Often, of course, one simply could not go to certain places because of the cost, risk, or unavailability of transportation.
It is those conditions which the apostles faced when Jesus issued the great commission. Travel was difficult and hazardous, yet they went. Paul’s list of hardships endured, recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33, specifically mentions many which were directly associated with his travels. These included shipwrecks, journeys, perils of waters, perils of robbers, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, and perils in the sea. These experiences did not diminish his commitment to his mission, nor did they prevent him from planning even longer and more arduous campaigns (see Romans 15:19-24).
The fact is that going to preach to the lost is not conceived as easy, fun, or convenient. It is understood in Scripture that fulfilling the great commission will be hard and dangerous work. When Jesus sent the twelve on the “limited commission” he warned them:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16-18).
We are commanded to evangelize the world. This is an unconditional command, not limited by danger, cost, hardship, or inconvenience. But the obligation incurred by direct command is only a small part of our motivation. We go because of love for the lost, because of gratitude for God’s love for us, and because we realize that we have received salvation because someone came to preach to us in the past. Next to the sacrifices made by others, dating back to Jesus himself, a little jetlag is no price to pay.
We are blessed with greater possibilities to reach the lost in the most remote areas of the world than there has ever been. We can go virtually anywhere, and do it quickly, comfortably, and conveniently, in most cases with only moderate risk and at relatively low cost.
God has truly blessed us with opportunity. For that we are grateful, and we will go!
by Michael E. Brooks