See then that you walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16)
Writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul said: "Live purposefully and worthily and accurately...making the very most of the time---buying up each opportunity---because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16). The admonition is no less appropriate for us, especially in view of the commission of Christ to disciple the nations.
Our Lord's command is a summons to live with the same sense of purpose that directed His steps. He has given us in His lifestyle a personal example of what the mandate involves, while the Acts of the Apostles relates that pattern in His church. Though the principles must be clothed with relevant applications in our contemporary situation, they offer us some guidelines to follow. If they are true, then we are obligated to implement them. When we move from ideas to action, the rubber meets the road.
Finding ways to put the concepts into practice, however, will not be easy. Christians, like other people, tend to get into ruts that meander with the path of least resistance. The exacting work of making disciples may require not only renewed dedication, but also a reorientation of our philosophy of ministry; and some persons, content with the status quo, will not understand, saying that they have never done it this way before. Change will come slowly and not without struggle. Spiritual formation in the church is much like raising a family. Bringing children to maturity takes a lot of patience on the part of the parents, as well as some good plans for training. Not everything believed beneficial will work. There is one thing about it though: If we take stock of our failures, there is no end to what we learn. The determined leader will not be denied ultimate success.
Receive the Power
The Holy Spirit puts it all together. What God administers as the Father and reveals as the Son, He accomplishes as the Third Member of the Trinity. So the mission of Christ through His church becomes the acts of the Spirit. He lifts up the Word, and as Jesus is glorified, men and women are drawn unto the Father. Here is the secret of the Great Commission. It is finally God's work, not ours. We are merely the channel through which the Spirit of Christ makes disciples.
He it is who gives the vision of the Kingdom and enables us to project plans to reach our world with the Gospel. The Spirit draws out disciples, planting in their hearts to learn; our part is to respond to His initiative. He forms the body of believers, giving unity and love to the fellowship. The indwelling Counselor calls the church to ministry and dispenses gifts for service. Through His strength faith comes alive in obedience, and by His impartation of grace, we are conformed to the character of our Lord.
Everything, then, depends upon the Spirit's possession of the sent ones, the church. Just as those first disciples were told to tarry until they received the promised power, so must we. The spiritual endowment of Pentecost, by whatever name it is called, must be a reality in our lives, not as a distant memory, but as a present experience of the reigning Christ. Hindrances that obstruct His dominion need to be confessed, and our hearts need to be cleansed so that the Spirit of holiness can fill us with the love of God. Though we can never contain Him, He wants all of us---to love Him and adore Him with all that we are and all that we hope to be. This is the challenge before the church of the Great Commission. How we respond will largely determine the impact of our witness upon eternity. While the ultimate dimensions of the coming Kingdom are not yet visible, we know that when the Son of Man appears, then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, and every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue declare to the glory of the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord.