I have been around for over half a century; being involved in the mainstream of the gospel enterprise for nearly four decades.
When you have earned the right to be called an elder, it is calamitous to shirk the responsibility of being one.
I cannot look the other way while the nanny goat is giving birth tethered. I dare not match heaven’s sublime artistry with humanity’s dubious sophistry.
It is anathema to value the ephemeral as the eternal.
The Great Commission I came to know and embrace as a budding believer derives from the express command of Jesus just before his ascension.
It is captured by all the Gospels but expressed most succinctly in Mark 16:15, 16.
“And he said unto them: Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
This is the believer’s primary assignment; the Church’s raison d’être.
It is the only means of reconciling fallen humanity with its longsuffering creator, and the authentic path to re-acquiring meaning and a sense of mission.
Its message is deep enough to humble the sage, yet in its profundity, it ennobles the simple. To set it in motion, the Son of God had to endure a grueling crucifixion and a horrific death.
In publishing it, all but one of the Apostles died violently.
Millions have paid the ultimate price by embracing and propagating it because dying for the Christ has always been a profitable proposition.
In the course of my spiritual odyssey, I have identified another gospel bearing uncanny resemblance to the original.
Because it bears the same name – Great Commission – and is published under the same standard and increasingly by the same standard bearer, many well-meaning but ignorantly gullible persons are being serially duped.
There is a story in the Old Testament that accurately illustrates how these Great Commissions can co-exist and thrive side by side.
2nd Kings Chapter 5 contains the account of a Syrian general named Naaman. Here are words aptly used to describe him: great, honourable and courageous, but he was a leper.
It would seem the leprosy cancelled out all that was good and noble about him.
And I think that is what all leprosies do: undo every other attainment. One can only imagine how far Naaman had gone in procuring a cure: all to no avail.
Ministering to General Naaman’s missus was a little Jewish girl who had been captured by the Syrian army.
Now you know the sordid enterprise of abducting godly girls isn’t exactly original to Nigeria’s murderous Boko Haram.
Though a captive, she must have been well treated and that motivated her to inform her mistress of a certain Israeli prophet who could recover the great Naaman from his leprosy.
Men invested with power, fame and riches have their worldly ways of confronting challenges, and Naaman was no different.
Armed with a powerfully worded missive from the Syrian potentate, he trots off to Israel’s king bedecked in all the accoutrements of his high office to be rid of his damning debility.
Naaman’s encounter with Israel’s frightened king almost degenerated into a diplomatic row as he suspected mischief from his Syrian counterpart.
Thankfully, word quickly got to the prophet Elisha who saved the day by summoning the flummoxed Syrian generalissimo.
Curiously, their interaction escalated an already tense situation as Elisha, in blatant disregard of the very minimum requirements of protocol, sent his servant Gehazi to order Naaman to go bathe in the muddy waters of River Jordan to be healed.
Feeling roundly insulted, he predictably flew off the handle and stormed off to probably contemplate reciprocal action.
It took the intervention of a bold and wise aide to calm Naaman and shepherd him to the Jordan where, even to his consternation, he was healed of his leprosy.
It was a humbled but contagiously happy Naaman that galloped back to Elisha not only to express gratitude but more importantly to announce his decision to serve Israel’s God.
To see a soul turn from the vanity of idolatry to embrace the true God was the prophet’s crowning joy and he would permit nothing to interfere with the spiritual tot’s budding faith.
So despite Naaman’s impassioned pleas, Elisha resolutely refused to accept the gifts he offered.
But servant Gehazi was differently persuaded. His master letting Naaman return home with the great commission he had rightly offered was an error he was intent on correcting.