Coming and Going
No verb in the 150-year vocabulary of the Adventist Church has been emphasized half so much as the simple imperative, “Go.” From the organization of the church’s General Conference in 1863 with perhaps 3,500 members to the present world-circling movement of 17 million people, Jesus’ command to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19) has been the watchword of six generations of Seventh-day Adventists.
Feeling the weight of that simple word, tens of thousands of dedicated believers have sacrificed time, money, and careers to carry the gospel to virtually every nation on earth. Many who went out under the impress of that command now sleep in graves far from their homes, some of them martyrs for the faith of Jesus. Others have endured unspeakable hardship at the hands of enemies because they could not forget the call to “go.”
Many imagine Jesus’ command as a linear one, beginning from His last conversation with His disciples in a.d. 31 and concluding only at the Second Coming. But there is another verb—another imperative—that we do well to hear, and it is one that actually precedes the command to “go.” “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus says (Matt. 11:28). Before we pick up the legitimate work of disciples, we must have entered into a personal relationship with the Lord of disciples. If we move out into mission without the sustaining, life-giving power promised by Jesus and found among His people, we are moving in our own strength and will soon become exhausted and discouraged. Like the 70 disciples whom Jesus sent out two by two (Luke 10:1, 2), we are intended to move in a blessed circle of mission and replenishment that keeps the church healthy and energized for its task.
Wherever you are in that cycle of activity and support today, pray for those who are both “going” and “coming” because of their devotion to Jesus.