“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Samaria – Acts is the story of the fulfillment of the Great Commission, but if we read it only as a geography lesson, we will never understand the depth of Jesus’ command. The great commission is not simply about territorial expansion. It is about a change in my mental topology. The word that makes it all crystal clear is “Samaria.”
Think about the Great Commission once more. It’s not about a command to go. It is about choosing disciples as I go along the road of life. It’s about deliberately making apprentices of those who are outsiders. Too often we think of discipling as a mentoring process for believers, but Jesus is quite clear that His plan is to reach to those who are goyim (the nations), the ones who are not a part of Israel. Discipling is an action that I take on behalf of someone who stands apart from God. I ask that person to follow me around for a few years, observing, evaluating and finally, copying me. Why? Because I am in total service to the Master and my life is His living witness.
So, whom do I choose? Jesus has a few words of wisdom on this topic as well. My choices will include those nearest to me (my neighbors where I live – Jerusalem), those who are in my same community (Judea) and those who present a slightly different problem. These are my Samaritans. Who are these people? They are my enemies. Yes, that’s right. I am to choose as my disciples those who would do me harm. There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans. They had been at war for nearly a thousand years. So, when Jesus says that His Great Commission is to be the method of operation among Samaritans, He might was well have been telling His disciples to embrace all those they considered detestable. Jesus wanted His disciples to apply the love of neighbor to the love of my enemy. He was deadly serious about it.
In fact, this is exactly what He did. Jesus chose Judas as a disciple. Jesus knew His betrayer, but that did not stop Him from pouring His life into this treacherous man. Jesus must have known Judas was stealing. He must have known Judas was dangerous. He certainly knew when Judas sold Him out. But Jesus did exactly what He asks each of His followers to do – to choose from the neighborhood, the community and the enemies – to demonstrate what it means to love by turning His attention to the enemy. Jesus asks us to change our thinking about who matters. He asks us to take on God’s perspective and to live life poured out. If He can do it, why can’t I?
Perhaps we need to rethink our entire concept of evangelism. It has almost nothing to do with transferring information to someone else in order to get them to the pearly gates. Evangelism is not really about “them” at all. It’s about me. It’s about the change that must come to pass in my heart so that I also weep over the lost enemies of God. It’s about giving up myself, my agenda, my protection in order that I can be the living witness to the God Who hung on a cross. If there is anyone on earth who needs to see God is action, it is my enemy. And if there is anyone on earth who needs to erase enemy territory from mental geography, it’s me.
Topical Index: Enemy