Pastor and author, Francis Chan, said, “Until our vision of the church encompasses the entire globe, we do not have an accurate view of God’s church or His plan of redemption” (Multiply, pg 77). But wait! Isn’t making disciples about face time in the here and now? Shouldn’t our vision be about the work God is doing where He has planted us? Isn’t building the Global Church simply beyond our reach?
Yes, it is precisely because it is beyond our reach that it is so important to our understanding of Him and His ways. It is a God-size task to have the Gospel heard in all languages and embraced by those in spiritual captivity around the world. It is not about adding up the numbers coming to Christ. Instead, it is highly strategic. Reaching all ethnos or people groups—making disciples of all nations—is about restoring all peoples to be under God’s authority.
Remember the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11? Men rebelled against God, desiring to build their own name and do their own thing instead of obeying God’s command to fill the earth. They chose to stay together. Well, God had a different plan! He was gracious and spared mankind, but separated them by language and location, scattering them over the earth. This actually enabled them to fill the earth. Since then, He has been working toward the restoring and reuniting of all peoples under His authority.
Only our Redeemer God would graciously provide an offer of deliverance for all of humanity and then patiently work toward restoration of each of the peoples He scattered at Babel. The church began with preaching to a multitude at Pentecost (Acts 2) with men from every nation under heaven. About 3,000 people were reconciled to God that day! He is bringing all peoples home to Himself, until John’s vision of a great united multitude of all nations, tongues, tribes and peoples is realized (Revelation 7:9). This God-sized task tells us about His everlasting love for His creation, His patience and persistence to pursue all mankind over these thousands of years. It underscores His brilliance and ultimate power as He reveals Himself at just the right time to lost peoples.
So making disciples “of all nations” is not just another way of saying “everyone”. It reveals a God-sized strategic task that testifies of our God’s grace and indescribable patience toward all mankind. It also commands our participation. When we picture those from every tribe before His throne, we should see the completion of a giant endeavor that truly was beyond our reach. If it was within our reach, we would probably impose our programs and design. If it was within our reach, we may mistake our invited involvement as causative. But recognizing that it is beyond our reach defines God’s task as one in which we as a church could not have attempted alone. So the real question is, do we see ourselves intentionally participating in that global endeavor?
“Go, make disciples of all nations”, inherently includes God’s plan (to restore all peoples), God’s chosen instrument (the Body moving forward), and God’s method (to make disciples). Nothing is optional. This is the vision with which Chan challenges us: To keep our eyes focused on God’s worldwide agenda. Matthew 14:28-33 records Peter walking on the water. While Peter kept his eyes beyond His reach—on Christ—he was fine. When he focused only on his local circumstance, he sank. What is beyond our reach gives us hope. It gives us purpose. Without it, we as a church will sink.
“…Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?…” Isaiah 50:2