But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
August is back-to-school month. Students from kindergarten through high school gather new supplies, new outfits, and newly-set alarm clocks, embarking on a new season of their educational journey. Young adults head off to college, connecting all those years of educational basics to the career training needed for a future that is no longer so far in the distance. Parents joyously await the extra quiet time at home and added responsibilities for their children.
But amidst the excitement is also anxiety. There is always a little of both when embarking on a new journey, even if we are well-prepared. This will be my 20th first day of school since graduating from college, and I am still jittery each and every time. But it is the most anxious for students beginning a new school. Every year we welcome a new group of high school freshmen, and some of them are deathly afraid of the new environment that is to come. So I find myself often being a comforter this time of year, assuring anxious teens (and their anxious parents), that they will be just fine. 20 years have taught me that young people are resilient and adaptable. Once they acclimate to their new environment and meet new friends, they tend to thrive. They learn the expectations of their teachers, get involved in extracurriculars that build community, and ultimately gain the vision to see the future they desire and the steps to get there.
When the eleven disciples arrived at the mountain in Galilee to meet the resurrected Christ, many were in awe of their risen Master. However, we also read that some among them doubted. These men were Christ’s closest followers and companions, yet even they struggled to believe in the amazing power of the Gospel and their ability to share it. There were butterflies in the stomach for sure, and much doubt that they could possibly fill the shoes that their Master was leaving for them. Were they prepared for this new season? Yes. But they had their doubts, given the enormity of the mission and the fear of those that would oppose it.
Despite the presence of doubt, Jesus still chose to anoint them with the great mission. His millennia of experience showed Him that these students would be just fine. No, it wouldn’t be easy. But they would acclimate to the new environment, learn to lean on one another, and show a great resiliency. They would be victorious in their mission for He would be with them every step of the way.
Today, we Christians struggle with the same doubts. We ask ourselves “how possibly can we be effective in spreading this crucial message?” We lack confidence in our ability to communicate the Gospel clearly and fear the rejection that often accompanies an unbelieving listener. This is the point at which our faith must shine. We must believe in Christ’s final words in Matthew: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
Allow God to spread His love to the world through our everyday actions. This type of evangelism often does not require words. When an opportunity arises to verbally share the Gospel, allow the Holy Spirit to guide our every statement. Each of us accepted Christ with the help of the seeds planted by other Christians. Our faith has been nurtured with water and light. As we prepare for ‘back-to-school’ month, may we be equipped with faith to bear fruit and plant new seeds.
-- Pastor Justin
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