The Gospel has personal and social implications. Personally, it transforms our life; socially, it transforms our communities.
Statistically, 2-5% of professing followers of Jesus share the Gospel, which means that 98-95% do not. The question is do these statistics have personal and social consequences?
The answer is yes. Personally, many Christians would say that there seems to be something missing in their Christian experience. There’s a common feeling that there must be more to their Christian life than they are experiencing and they would be right.
Jesus said that He came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). The question is what is the abundant life? I believe that abundant life is a life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These 9 attributes are known as the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). Jesus said that the will of God the Father is that followers of Jesus would remain connected to Jesus (the True Vine) and by doing so they would bear “fruit”, “more fruit” and ‘much fruit” (John 15:1-8).
As we abide in Christ, our fruitfulness increases and the abundance of our life experience also increases. Another way of communicating abiding (John 15) is obedience. Jesus said, “if you love me you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
So what did Jesus command? His commandments where many, but He said all the commandments could be narrowed down to two when He answered a question asked by an “expert of the law” – “what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:34-40).
This is known as the “Great Commandment” which is what I refer to as the first of the two great components/mandates of Christianity. The second great component is known as the “Great Commission”. At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus told his disciples that “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.” (Matt 28:18-20).
In the “Great Commandment,” there are two parts – love God and love others, and in the Great Commission there are also two parts – tell others and teach others. There is much that could be unpacked here, but for the sake of getting to the point, I believe these two great mandates are at the heart of experiencing the “abundant life” Jesus spoke about (John 10:10). I also believe that disobedience to living out these two great mandates are at the heart of why many Christians are not experiencing the “abundant life” and why the world we live in is in chaos.
I believe that if we were obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission we would experience transformation in our personal lives and transformation in our communities.
Jesus said that His followers are the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14). I believe Jesus was saying that when his followers lived in obedience to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment they would preserve (salt) His righteous standard on the earth and expel darkness in the world, and thereby experience the abundant life He came to give.
By now you are saying “Amen” or how did I come up with that? Jesus’ teachings were not given chronologically, but factually. As Jesus instructed His disciples he laid out truth, upon truth, upon truth, because He is the truth (John 14:6) and He spoke the truth (John 1:14). Therefore, logically we can deductively take the truths Jesus spoke and arrive at logical/reasonable conclusions.
Another aspect to consider is that most of God’s promises are conditional and are received by those who fulfill the conditions laid out by God. Therefore, why would anyone expect to experience the abundant life Jesus talked about unless they followed (obedience) Jesus His way?
In the final week of Jesus’ earthly life, He told His disciples what is known as the “Parable of the Talents” (Matt. 25:14-30) which goes like this: I’m going away, I’m leaving you to take care of my business (the Gospel), and I will return and hold you accountable for how you took care of my business. Jesus came to save sinners and left us to complete His mission which is the Great Commission”.
When we fulfill the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission” we will individually experience the “abundant life” Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. As the percentage of obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission increases in the church, so will our effectiveness of being salt and light increase, thereby transforming our communities.