Jesus’ final exhortation on earth begins with the word “Go” (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:19)! As Loren Cunningham says, “Go means a change of location.” We can’t stay where we are. We are called to go where we are not. Go where the gospel is not. Go where the kingdom is not. Paul clearly understood this. For this reason he said, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (Rom 15:20).
Many times Jesus’ final words have been misapplied. He 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” (Acts 1:8). Note that he does NOT say “first in Jerusalem then in Judea and then in Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth.” There is no chronological sequence or strategic priority laid out here. The text says “and ... and ... and,” not “then ... then ... then”! Our ministry at one and the same time is to be both global and local – it’s supposed to be glocal!
Note also that not one of those listening to these final words of Jesus considered Jerusalem their hometown. They were all from Galilee (see Acts 1:11) – the Roman region immediately to the north of Judea and Samaria. It’s absence from Jesus’ list of geographical targets is noteworthy. Galilee had been the primary place of his three-year ministry. Now he was telling his followers in essence, “Been there. Done that. Move on to where you have not been – to the ends of the earth.” The disciples evidently got it. The New Testament does not record any further ministry in their hometown region of Galilee. Once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they took the gospel to where they had not been – and so should we!
Every ministry – whether one of the seven strategic themes or an initiative among one of the seven societal spheres – takes place somewhere. Geography is a part of the warp and woof of all that we do. It was certainly part of Jesus’ Great Commission plan. How is it to be a part of ours?
To be effective in ministry and bear enduring fruit we must see place after place transformed. The prophet exhorts us to “Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops” (Is 42:10-11). Note where we are to sing, raise our voices, proclaim and shout. Our ministry targets must include those living at sea level and on the mountain tops, those in sparsely populated deserts and in urbanized settlements. We are to go to “the ends of the earth”! When we fill every geographic corner of the earth with worshipful declarations of his glorious redemption, the prophet promises that God – who in earlier times would “not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets” (Is 42:2) – will then “march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies” (Is 42:13). Let this be the time when we give God reason to shout! Let this be the time when we go to every last corner of the earth and proclaim the amazing wonders of our God’s salvation! Let this be the time to engage with the alls and everys!
from the 777 Document, July 2012