The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

I remember returning home from seminary one Thanksgiving.  I had been a student for all of 6 months when I decided I had it all figured out.

I remember asking the question, “What’s the most important act for a Christian – worship or witness?”  Of course, I was baiting those sitting there in the living room that day, ready to pounce with my newly acquired seminary knowledge (which is much akin to giving a gun and bullets to a child).

After a bit of stammering and furled eyebrows, the response came – “why…uh…well…witnessing.”

Bam!  I had ’em.  “No,” I proclaimed.  And, then I began pontificating the place and importance of worship in the life of a believer.

Not a very gracious approach to discussing worship and evangelism.  But, I was young, idealistic, and ready to take on all-comers.  God has been much more gracious in dealing with me than I was with my family!

The idea of placing worship and witness against the other is not a new one.  And, oddly, many will land on one side or the other.  In the book The Great Commission to Worshipthe two are discussed at length.

The Great Commission to evangelize comes from Jesus’ command in the Gospel of Matthew:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

The Great Commandment to worship comes also from the words of Jesus:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39 ESV

Often, we will land on one side or the other.  We major on worship and just let evangelism happen, or we focus intently on evangelism and lose the awe of worship.  In essence, we get neither one right.  We have lost the wonder and awe of why we worship, and that’s reflected in our apathy of sharing the Gospel.

There is one central thread that runs through the fabric of who we are as Christ-followers: we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is not our own doing…it is the merciful act of God toward the rebels.  If we understand that – that one basic, fundamental, Biblical truth – then we can’t help but worship AND witness.

The news is too good to keep us from clapping and shouting that “God saves!”

1 Comment

Filed under Worship

One response to “The Great Commandment and the Great Commission

  1. pjm

    I don’t remember having that conversation, but will agree you learned a lot in seminary.

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