Have you ever considered how closely the Great Commission in Matthew 28 parallels the Genesis Assignment in Genesis 1? “Go and make disciples” sounds a lot like “Be fruitful and multiply.” “Of all nations” sounds a lot like “fill the earth,” and “teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded” sounds a lot like “and subdue it (the earth.)” Throughout Scripture, we see God’s desire for His people to multiply and spread so the “earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”
In Genesis 10, God repeated His mandate to Noah and his family: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” Genesis 11 records their multiplication in what has been called “the table of nations.” What follows in Genesis 12 is a fascinating story that has important implications for us in Chi Alpha.
Mankind has multiplied, found the plain of Shinar, and settled there. Settling seems the opposite of “fill the earth” and this quickly leads to them saying, “Come, let’s make a name for ourselves…” Mark Renfroe, a dear missionary friend, once said “You can’t be a glory proclaimer if you’re a glory seeker.” Displeased with their motive, God disrupted their project by confusing their communication. The plain of Shinar became known as Babel and later Babylon, the symbol of everything opposed to the Kingdom of God.
What can we as Great Commission disciple makers learn from this odd story of a great tower and foreign languages? I would like to suggest the following for our consideration.
If our discipleship vision and activity doesn’t exceed the boundaries of our campus, our state, and even our nation, we may be settling in the plain of Shinar and have a ministry that is more Babylonian than Biblical.
If we work to raise our budgets inspiring people about being a part of something that will change the world and don’t intentionally mobilize students to go into all the world and make disciples, we may be more Babylonian than biblical.
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Spirit-filled believers who are not actively strategizing and sacrificing to bring the gospel to the ends of earth may be settling in the plain of Shinar.
Would you be satisfied (settle) with a large room on campus full of listeners while there are literally thousands of harvest fields completely void of laborers? If so, don’t be surprised if God doesn’t seem to be supporting your ambition.
Babylonian missions looks like Stay, Save, Play, and Protect.
Biblical missions looks like Go, Give, Pray and Welcome.
In our next post, we’ll consider practical ways to evaluate and implement a biblical missions strategy.