“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20)” I suspect Jesus was not encouraging his followers to teach theology, to teach information about God, the way we learn facts about the history of the United States to become citizens. Again, obedience implies action and motion towards community not just information gathering for the edification of the learner. “Teaching to obey” brings to my mind obedience school for pets so that they can be trusted with others, can become guide dogs, and know how to behave for the benefit of all concerned.
So we are thrown back to ponder the commands Jesus gave his followers during his ministry on earth that we are to learn. I think of commands like “come unto me ye who are weary,” or “love your enemy and forgive those who persecute you,” or all the teachings in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. We are told to teach others to follow the life of Christ who laid down his life for others. Medical ministries, educational ministries, orphanages, and welfare have grown institutionally out of this.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus agreed that it was to love God with our whole being and then love our neighbor as yourself. So perhaps the point of reflection today is to turn the flashlight inward and ask ourselves if there is anyone in my life that I need to take the first step to repair relationship with. There may even be someone deceased who abused me terribly or disappointed me terribly that I no longer have direct access to but to whom I could write a letter that I will then destroy after I turn that hurt over to God. Life is not fair and we are not perfect and often misunderstandings arise because we do not walk in the other’s shoes, but forgiveness is a choice we are always free to make.
Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. As we “go” and “make disciples” – impact others of all types, encouraging love and forgiveness, we can become new creations, baptized in the name of the triune God. There is hope for the future no matter how dismal the present may seem. And best of all, God walks with us and we are not alone. Thank you, Lord.