From Lambs to Lions
is 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
This text is referred to as the great commission of Jesus to the Church. It’s an assignment from Jesus that’s so massive in its scope that it must have completely overwhelmed the disciples when they first heard it, or maybe it motivated them, I don’t know. Here’s what I know: without the promise of Jesus, the commission is impossible and, furthermore, a recipe for burnout. The promise is this, “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me…”, in light of this, go, make disciples of nations.
A commission is powerless if it is given from one who is powerless. If Jill Martin, the friendly cashier from the Renton Walmart called me and said, “Go and buy one thousand rolls of toilet paper and give them out to all your neighbors,” I would respond by laughing uncontrollably and then waiting for Jonathan Cotton to reveal himself as the caller. But, if I received a call from the White House, and then through a process of transferred calls I found myself on the phone with President Obama and he said, “Darren Stott, your country has need of you. Go and get the city of Newcastle prepared for a disaster. I have already called Mayor Dulcich, he is awaiting your visit.” I would be empowered from by a great authority to undertake a massive task.
Your authority to perform a task is empowered by the authority of the task giver. We, the Church, have been given the authority, and the opportunity, to accomplish the impossible for the purpose of fulfilling a great commission, given to us by a great authority, Jesus Christ.
WITH COMPETENCE COMES COURAGE
Marketplace professionals always say to not prematurely judge a new job until you have been doing it for at least ninety days. Why is this? Any time you take on a new position, or a new assignment, there is an underlying sense of uneasiness because of the unknowns. Learning curves always present feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. But the professionals know that with experience comes competence, and with competence comes courage. For this reason, you fake courage your first ninety days, you ask lots of questions, you make lots of mistakes, and you seek the wisdom of those who are established and have a reputation for success. Before you know it you are a professional, an authority within your industry; not only have you sown your time, energy, and resources into understanding your market and product, but you are now the very person that is hiring, firing, and delegating responsibilities.
Now apply this to the great commission. At a glance the job description given by Jesus doesn’t look like a good fit for most of us, wouldn’t you agree? Surely Jesus is just giving this task to only the apostles in his day, or maybe he is also including the evangelists in our day, but he is certainly not assuming that we are all supposed to be included in this task, right?
For example, an imaginary man named Carl said to me the other day, “Pastor Darren, I love the article that you are writing on progressive boldness, but you must understand, I operate in the office of a teacher, so Matthew 28 doesn’t really apply to me.” My response to Carl is this, “Carl, the great commission was written to believers in every category and office. If your title is keeping you from obeying Jesus, you need a new title; for example, let’s begin with the title ‘Christian.’”
CONFRONTING FEAR WITH AN ANOINTING OF BOLDNESS
In Acts 3 Peter and John command a cripple to get up and walk, the dude who was crippled from birth is completely healed. In Acts 4 Peter and John get into big trouble. The captain of the temple, the Sadducees, the rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family and they threaten Peter and John. They say, “Peter and John, we forbid you from speaking any more in this name (referring to the name of Jesus),” and if you do, we are going to crush you.
The believers respond by getting together and crying out to God. What are they praying for?
29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
The believers, in and of themselves, were fearful but they cried out to the Lord for boldness and the Lord honored their request immediately.
Fear is not God saying that you are out of your jurisdiction or gifting. Fear is an indicator of intimidation. What would it profit God to intimidate you? It would be against his character. Too many times we allow our feelings to dictate how we are going to live out our lives; therefore, when threatened by the enemy of our soul, we apologize and cower. I would challenge you to never, ever apologize to the enemy. Now is the time for you to confront your fears with an anointing of boldness – this doesn’t mean that you are not afraid. It means that you engage by faith despite your feelings and this is what activates boldness.
BOLDNESS IS PROGRESSIVE
Greg got this script thing from Rodney Howard Browne and they guarantee that, if you just “read the script, people will get saved.” After hearing Greg’s praise reports I wanted to give it a try. We went to a residential community to knock on doors. I admit that I was scared. I hadn’t yet really memorized the script; I wasn’t even familiar with it. But, I was with Greg, a professional evangelist, so I planned on hiding behind him and watch as the magic happened. God showed up in power, and I watched as Greg operated with jaw-dropping boldness. As God confirmed his word I found myself getting excited, really excited. That night I didn’t sleep well. I was no longer scared. I was chomping at the bit to go knock on more doors. Two days later I went out alone. I got out of my car and I didn’t feel nervous. That day, once again, I saw God show up and bring healing and salvation to some wonderful people. This is when I realized, boldness is progressive. We transform from lambs to lions when we engage our faith despite our feelings.
The problem: I can’t witness because I don’t feel the Holy Spirit right now!
The solution: By faith I believe the Holy Spirit is present despite how I feel, therefore I am empowered to engage.
When we take a risk for the sake of loving others with the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit shows up and reveals Jesus, and this reinforces and increases your boldness. If Jesus shows up when you take a risk, is it really a risk? Boldness will remain dormant in your life until you activate it with your faith.