The Great Commission and Pro-Life Work?
I've noticed that when many Christians think about the Great Commission, they primarily think about personal evangelism, sending out missionaries, and initial conversion. While the Great Commission surely includes these things, it also includes a whole a lot more. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gave his Great Commission, saying, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." In this passage there is one main command, "make disciples," and three necessary components for carrying out the command: "going," "baptizing," and "teaching." Going and baptizing definitely have to do with the initial stages of evangelism and conversion, but teaching encompasses the entire life of a disciple. Notice Jesus said, "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." This part of the Great Commission involves a life-long process and commitment to teach everything Jesus taught.
If this be the case, then the church's understanding of the Great Commission ought to broaden. And I would submit that Christian pro-life work be included as part of our mission to the nations. Why? Jesus' last long teaching discourse in the book of Matthew (there are 5 long teaching discourses in Matthew: 5:1-7:28; 10:1-42; 13:1-52; 18:1-35; 23:1-25:46) ends with a plea to minister to the "least of these," and that with eternal reward and punishment on the line (Matt 25:31-46). The "least of these" refer to those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, or in prison (vv. 35-36). In other words, those who are lacking something necessary for well-being, like food, clothing, health, and friendship. Jesus calls these sorts his very brothers and teaches that those who minister to the them, minister to him directly and are welcomed into his kingdom (v. 40). Those who fail to do so, fail to minister to Jesus and will go away into eternal punishment (v. 46). This teaching of Jesus is not meant to be taken lightly. That said, if the Great Commission includes teaching disciples to observe everything Jesus taught, then should we not take seriously his teaching about caring for the least among us? Should not ministries that promote care for the least among us be counted as a necessary part of our mission to the nations?
The Great Commission includes teaching disciples to observe everything Jesus taught. One of the last things Jesus taught with utmost seriousness is that those who care for him will care for those who are needy and helpless, the least among us. Pro-life work aims to care for the most needy and helpless, the least of all the members of the human race, unborn, abortion-vulnerable children. My prayer is that many churches around the country and world will support pro-life work, along with traditional missionary work, as an extension of the Great Commission.