Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

Presented by Mike Tune, Pulpit Minister for the Church of Christ in Falls Church and Amazing Grace International

Effective Witness

In their book, Unto A Good Land, five noted history professors tell the story of our nation taking into particular account the influence of religion on our history. The early explorers were Spanish and Portugese and while trade and riches were motivating factors in their efforts, mission work was also on their minds. Columbus claimed to be God’s “messenger of the new heaven and the new earth.”

But the methods of such early explorers as Cortes, Vasquez de Coronado, and Don Juan Onate were a far cry from what Jesus had in mind with the Great Commission. Cortes, for example, forced the Indians to give up their idols and embrace Christianity, giving captured women to his captains but requiring them to be baptized before marriage or cohabitation. Natives were often treated with such little regard by their conquerors that one observant missionary complained “we cannot preach the gospel now.”

Effective witness begins not with a message, but with personal presentation and treatment of others. I remember seeing a 1946 photo of fifteen Dr. Pepper salesmen in crisp uniforms gathered for a 7 am sales meeting. A blackboard was filled with daily reminders but to one side was a poster with these words at the bottom: “Every member of an organization who in any capacity comes into contact with the public is a salesman, and the impression he makes is an advertisement, good or bad.”

The apostle Paul wrote that God’s ambassadors should set an example for others by doing good so that God’s name might not be slandered and that the teaching about God our Savior might be attractive.

You can force people to embrace a religion. The early explorers did it. But you cannot force people to have faith. Cultivating faith in others through example, mentoring and teaching is really what the Great Commission is all about.

Saturday, October 18. Matthew 25 – 28

How shall we explain the empty tomb?

Did Jesus simply faint on the cross but, in the coolness of the tomb revive and escape? If yes, could he really have had the strength to overcome the posted guard? Preposterous! But the tomb was empty.

Perhaps Jesus was never really buried! But Pilate and Jesus’ enemies knew he was buried and they wanted to make sure he stayed buried. That was the reason for the guard. But on Sunday, the tomb was empty.

Perhaps Jesus’ disciples stole the body! But how could such a poorly equipped lot overcome the contingent of Roman soldiers? Perhaps the soldiers were sleeping on duty.

Yeah. That’s it. Soldiers sleeping. And that’s the story Jesus’ opponents told, the story that persisted after Jesus’ resurrection. But it was a lie as thin as tissue paper. Had the soldiers slept, they would have been punished – perhaps killed. But they were not. Had the disciples stolen the body, breaking the official seal of Pilate, they would have been hunted down and executed. But they were not. How do we explain these anomalies?

Eventually the truth came out, and everyone in Jerusalem knew the story. The lie was created by Jesus’ enemies, Israel’s religious elite, and secured, like Jesus’ betrayal, with money. The soldiers had to be paid to lie, but Jesus’ disciples go out and spread the word – for no gain at all – simply because the story was true.

The great commission is the mission of every Christian, to not only be a follower of Jesus, but to make other followers of Jesus. The process involves teaching the story of Jesus, baptism in the name of Jesus, and obedience to the word of Jesus. It involves a changed life that spreads the change by teaching and example. Only those who make this mission their own can truly say God rules in their lives.