To the Ends of the Earth.
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:30 NLT
Over in the book of Acts, Luke records for us the words of Jesus, spoken to the disciples after His resurrection and just prior to His ascension back into heaven. He was giving them His marching orders. He told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT). This statement had to have amazed the disciples on a number of levels. First of all, He was leaving. They were going to be on their own for the very first time since they had begun following Jesus. That thought had to be intimidating to them. Secondly, He was telling them that they were going to spread the Good News all over the world. These were men who were unlearned and who had not traveled beyond the region of Palestine. Now they were being told to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. But they did. And one of the men who played a significant role in accomplishing Christ’s commission was the apostle Paul. While he was not present when Jesus spoke the words quoted above, Paul clearly knew about them and took the seriously. He spent his entire adult life, post-conversion, doing just what Jesus had commanded. As a result, people all throughout the areas of the world we now know as Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Italy heard the Good News about Jesus Christ. Paul traveled thousands of mile, under less-than-ideal conditions, in order to make Christ known to the Gentiles. He faced difficulties, setbacks, and opposition of all kinds. He even went through the life-threatening experience of a shipwreck. Paul was relentlessly obedient to the command of Christ.
And he longed to visit the believers in faraway Rome. But not before he made a trip to Spain. Think about the significance of what Paul was planning. Travel in his day was not easy or comfortable. It wasn’t inexpensive either. And Paul’s travel plans were not driven by wanderlust, but a deep desire to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He wanted people of all nations to hear the Good News and experience the same life-changing transformation he had gone through on the road to Damascus all those years ago. Paul was driven by a love for the lost. He wanted more and more people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. He knew that the only hope for the world was Jesus. And he knew that the only way they were going to hear about Him was if someone was willing to tell them. Paul expressed this very sentiment earlier in his letter to the Romans. “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14 NLT). So Paul went and Paul told. And he asked the believers in Rome to pray for him. He knew that not everyone was free or able to do what he did. Not everyone could spend their lives traveling around the world spreading the Gospel. But they could join in his efforts through prayer. They could give financially to help fund his travels. Paul viewed what he did as a family affair. They were in it together. He had his part to play and they had theirs. And the same it true today. There are those who have been called to full-time ministry, spreading the Gospel to the nations. But all of us have been commissioned by Christ to take the Good News to the ends of the earth, and it begins in our own neighborhood. We are all missionaries, messengers of Good News to the nations. Some of us can go. Many of us can give. All of us can pray. And we need to do so until Jesus returns. Like Paul, we need to learn that it is not enough to be content to hear the Good News and to benefit from it. We must spread the Good News so that others might come to experience the same joy, forgiveness, freedom, and hope that we have. “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15 NLT).
Father, we have a job to do. We have a message to share. We have a commission to keep. Give us a focus like Paul had. Don’t let us ever think that the spread of the Gospel is someone else’s job. Never let us buy into the lie that we are somehow exempt from keeping the Great Commission. Constantly remind us of the importance of going, telling, giving and praying. May we learn to sacrifice our own agenda for Yours. May we give up our conveniences and comforts for the sake of those who are lost and dying. There are still so many who have not heard the Good News regarding Your Son. Give us the desire and determination of Paul in this generation. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men