Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.
Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (CEB)
So how do we respond? Let’s assume you’re all fired up, ready to obey God! Time to go make some disciples, right? Let’s go to…. the nations? It feels like an overly vague description, right? At the time Jesus said it, it meant the groups of people who weren’t Israelites. It meant gentiles. In the context of where they were, and who they were, it just meant everybody else. The Samaritans. The Romans. The Greeks. The disciples couldn’t even conceive of it including the Chinese, or the Celts, or the Aztecs. But it included them too, of course.
So, now that we are here, in the 21st century, on the West coast, who does that mean for you?
Right now, you’re probably sorting out a lot of things in your life. Your spouse, your career, your Instagram username, the cut of jeans you prefer… But a big thing is figuring out who your nation is. That is, who you will spend the rest of your life ministering to. Who God wants you to reach. That can change during your adult life. But for a lot of people, maybe most, it follows a general theme. Someday, you’ll be 70 and you’ll look back at what you did for the Kingdom. You’ll see who you made disciples of, and where they are now. And I guarantee if you keep it up, you’ll feel immensely blessed at the end of it.
So, think about these options for your “nation” Pick one. Or several. But not all of them.
Your nation might be a literal nation. Maybe you have a connection with the Philippines, or Canada, or Namibia. Go there! Lean into it. God might be telling you clearly to give it all up and move overseas. Overseas discipleship is a lot like wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. Maybe it feels basic, or overdone, but it’s super foundational and we all need one in our lives. This is different than being a tourist, or even going on a mission trip. It’s about settling down and embedding yourself in the country. Finding, or making, a church and a community you can support.
Your nation might be an age group. Some of you love kids, or teens, or old people. That’s great! Maybe God will lead you to be an 8th grade teacher. Or a senior home director. Or a lifelong Sunday school teacher. If that’s the case, go for it. Learn all about that age. Take a class!
Your nation might be someone with similar issues. We all have our struggles. For example, I struggle with A flat and E flat. So, I’ve started a discipleship group for those who are sharp. Okay, not really. But I do struggle with depression. And I have a lot of grief in my past. Who do you think God has led to me, time and time again? Exactly. Sometimes our nation is people who are where we used to be. We can be an example and a light out for them. Of course, they can also pull us down. That’s the danger of this ministry. And the reason we all need accountability and an outlet.
Your nation might be a Corps group. Chances are, many of you reading this will be leaders of ministries at your Corps, or a different Corps than you’re at now. WMI is about leadership and ministry, so my guess is that you’re aware of your potential, even if it’s not actual. Right now, we are teaching you to lead music groups. But more importantly you should be learning how to be a spiritual leader. Soon you’ll look around and realize that you’re the adult in the room. That it’s up to you to lead! You might be 17, or 71 when that happens. In those cases, you say yes to what God is telling you to do, and he gives you the strength and ability to do it. Sometimes corps leadership is like how I learned to drive a stick shift. I bought a car in Cincinnati, Ohio, had a couple lessons, and then drove it two hours home through road construction to Kentucky. I learned stick at 60 mph!! I may have worn out that clutch. But I learned. Even more so, with God in your corner, you’ll become a great worship leader, or Bible study leader, even amid panic that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Your nation might be a cause. Maybe God is going to call you to stand up for foster kids. Or for sex workers. Or for the homeless. God might be using your interest in current events to pull you into specific ministries. There are so many causes and issues that it seems overwhelming, I know. But God may want you to go deep and becoming an expert on one or two of them. Jump in with both feet! Learn about it! Lead! Agitate and lobby for your cause!
Your nation might be your friends. I know, it seems obvious. But how do you affect your friend group? Are you the flake? The driver? The money borrower? Hopefully besides these friend types, you are the prayer, and the supporter, and the leader-to-Jesus. Sometimes God surrounds us with people who need our spiritual insight. Not always. Sometimes God surrounds us with people who we get that insight from. It varies. Your friend-goals should always be, 1. don’t be last to Venmo for the meal. 2. Give friend who needs a mint, a mint. 3. Make sure that being your friend brings people a little closer to Jesus. You don’t have to explain the four spiritual laws and lead each outing with a prayer time. But be the person who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. Be the encourager, and the outlet.
Your nation might be your family. As an adult, when you start your own family, this is a mandatory one. Always make sure your romantic partnerships are steeped in the Holy Spirit. That devotion to God is paramount. That will lead to how you raise your kids, or your cats, or even your houseplants, depending on your life choices. But I am talking here about your extended family. Siblings, parents, stepparents, cousins, even to your aunt’s husband’s cousin’s ex-wife. As you go through life, you’ll get chances to influence all these people. God might be sending you to be the witness in their lives. Don’t miss those times!
Okay. This is a pretty big list. I know. But I want you to take some time. Not right now. But over the next year, I want you to think about who your “nations” are. Talk to your parents, your Corps Officer, and maybe even to your DMD about all of it. Come back next summer to WMI at Pine Summit knowing a little more about where God is sending you.
Remember, when you trust and obey, it will be fellowship sweet, indeed!