Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Have you ever read today’s passage (commonly known as the Great Commission) and felt a sense of guilt of not being a “full-time missionary,” going to make disciples of all nations?
I know I have. But years ago, the teaching of Pastor Kennon Vaughan forever changed my thinking on this subject. Commenting on Jesus’s words in Matthew 28:19, Vaughan says, “The word ‘Go’ literally means ‘having gone.’ The going is assumed. In other words, Jesus is saying, ‘As you go, turn men into disciples.’ ‘Go’ is not the command. Jesus didn’t go more than two hundred miles away from His own hometown, and yet He is saying go make disciples of all nations. It wasn’t about how far He went. It was about what He did while He was going. The same is true for you and I.”
How can you and I be used by God to make disciples of Jesus Christ “as we are going” throughout our lives as entrepreneurs, writers, doctors, fathers, mothers, and baristas? Once again, Chick-fil-A provides an excellent example to follow.
For years, Chick-fil-A required all new trainees to watch a video titled “Every Life Has a Story.” The point of this video is to teach new staff to view customers as more than just transactions, but rather to see them as people, each with a different story that God is writing in their life. Chick-fil-A Operators take seriously the job of teaching their staff how to care and love for others; the beginning of any fruitful discipleship as Jesus so clearly demonstrated. Whether Chick-fil-A’s employees know it or not, they are being taught to become more like Christ. The Operators that do this intentionally are using their work to create disciples, following the example set by Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy.
It’s well known that Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays. And while this is partially to allow the company’s employees to worship, the origins of the policy stem from the fact that Cathy spent his Sundays discipling teenage boys at his church. Cathy understood what hundreds of Chick-fil-A Operators have come to learn over the decades: that seemingly “secular” work can be a powerful means of making disciples of Jesus Christ and it all starts with reading people’s stories and loving them as Christ has loved us.
God may indeed be calling you to travel thousands of miles away from home to make disciples in a foreign land, but for most of us, that likely won’t be the case. But just because God may be calling you to work in business, the arts, law, or medicine, doesn’t let you and I off the hook of Jesus’s command to create disciples. Every Christian is a “full-time missionary.” And if we, like Chick-fil-A, take the time to read the stories of the people around us, we will be on the path to genuinely caring for them. And if we genuinely care for them, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ will be the inevitable byproduct of our love.