There is a passage in the bible about the Great Commission where our Messiah said…
16 “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many ;
17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come ; for everything is ready now.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’
19 “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’
20 “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’
21 “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’
22 “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’
This has been variously interpreted over the years, i.e. as being about unbelievers willfully ignoring the invitation of salvation.
When read in context, it is worse than that. Those who ignored the master’s invitation were not outsiders, but believers already under His covenant that didn’t value Him or honor Him. And the invitation was not to enter His covenant but to join with Him in celebration of covenant renewal and restoration at His table.
It is a sobering reminder to us as His disciples to not get so focused on our own cares, concerns, issues or agendas, that we miss out on the joy of worship, of celebration and of listening to – and doing – what HE considers to be important. There is also a huge warning attached… this “missing out” is permanent. The invitation is revoked.
As our Messiah continued:
23 “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
24 ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were [previously] invited [and refused to come to my celebration] shall taste of my dinner.’ ”
Unfortunately much of what we focus on in our lives and in our churches is stuff He would consider unimportant because it focuses on our desires and our ways instead of Him and His ways. We were never created to do our own thing apart from Him or His purposes.
We were created to do His will and make His glory evident. That’s it. And in this season that is the Great Commission.
‘ “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.’
We are to compel those who don’t know Him to enter into His Kingdom.
An old misinterpretation of the word “compel” led to forced conversions over the centuries, and also for many centuries resulted in a legislated theo-centric communitas christiana. Unfortunately many Christians would still prefer to have a legislated Christian society, which is not at all what the Great Commission is about. One cannot force or legislate a change of heart and mind.
A couple of years ago I even had someone tell me that this “compel” meant that we strong-arm people into the Kingdom of God by the force of our arguments and the warfare of our prayer and by our dominion we possess in Christ. Wrong again… we are not the focus nor are results the fruit of our efforts.
And “to come in” does not mean to bring them into our churches so that somehow by osmosis they will absorb what it means to be a follower of Christ. “Come in” means to enter joyfully into the Kingdom of God which is not the same as your church.
Each one of us is to carry out the Great Commission out in our world, to go out into the highways and byways and our families and our workplaces and our neighborhoods, to make Him known.
So what does this mean, “to compel”?
It is all tied up with our purpose for being, and with where the focus belongs – on Him.
We were created to do His will and make His glory evident. That’s it.
Compel… not as in force or legislate, but compel as in providing a compelling and irresistible argument. And the strength of the argument is not in our persuasiveness or eloquence or cleverness, but in the whole package of our very lives.
The most compelling argument for the existence of God and the need for a saviour is the visible evidence of your life, when it is lived for Him, according to His purposes and His Word, reflecting His love and His mercy and His unchanging nature. This shows forth His glory and makes Him known to those around you.
The consequence of self-absorption and not focusing on Him is not just a personal stake. It takes our attention and energy away from making Him known to those who we are uniquely situated to impact by virtue of our place in the classroom, the workplace, the marketplace or our neighborhoods.
People around you are living lives of quiet desperation, and want to believe. Through the visible evidence of your life, go out with intent today to present a compelling argument so that the people around you will want to enter the Kingdom of God. Show forth His Glory!