I remember a confrontation I experienced when I first started pastoring. As I greeted people after a worship service, an upset congregant approached me — “We’ve got plenty of people in our own town who need to hear about Jesus! Why are we sending a mission team to another country?” In his mind, our church was to be concerned with its own community alone. He suffered from a misunderstanding that plagues many Christians. Some fail to be full-orbed witnesses for Jesus because they don’t hold to a well-balanced view of missions and evangelism. Jesus told us how we are to witness, “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Notice from our Lord’s words four realms of gospel advancement.
Jesus first told His disciples to minister in Jerusalem. This was their location when the Great Commission was given. Jesus wanted His disciples to start witnessing to those who were closest to them. Those who obey Jesus’ words are committed to bearing witness in their own town, city, or village. In their daily interactions, they are sensitive to opportunities to share the gospel. When Paul ministered in Corinth, he received a vision in which the Lord said, “I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Who were the “many people” in Corinth? Jesus encouraged Paul to keep witnessing in Corinth, because there were many who would be saved through his witness. Maybe the same could be said for us. If we will be faithful to shine the light of Jesus in our town, who knows the numbers of people who might come to Christ!
Outside of Our Community
Judea was the second place Jesus also told His disciples to witness. He Himself ministered in the area (Matthew 19:1). For the twelve, it was the geographical and political region in which their city existed. The gospel was not just designed for the supposed spiritual elite of the capital (Mark 7:1). It was intended to make a greater impact. As contemporary Christ-followers, we shouldn’t limit our ministry to our own communities. As we travel outside of our town into neighboring communities and counties, we are to take Jesus with us. While on vacation, we should be primed and ready to witness. We must be committed to ministering in places beyond the scope of our own towns, addressing needs in our states and counties as well!
People Who Are Different Than Us
Jesus also told His first followers to be witnesses in Samaria. For first century Jews, Samaritans were regarded as undesirables. Jesus once ministered to a Samaritan woman (John 4:1-38), showing that our witness should extend beyond ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries. In Jesus’ eyes, no one is prohibited from receiving salvation (Galatians 3:28). As a result, we should be willing and ready to witness to everyone!
Lastly, Jesus told His disciples to go “to the end of the earth.” Faithful Christ-followers have a hand in supporting missionaries who take the gospel to other countries. In some cases, they are even compelled to go and help. How is your witness? Are you engaged in getting the gospel to people in the aforementioned four realms?