From Clare Sutton, Chaplaincy Assistant:
Discussion this week about the so-called ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew’s resurrection narrative has left me thinking about the instruction from Jesus to his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’. For me it encapsulates one of the hardest aspects of living my life as a Christian: the requirement to encourage others to walk that path too. While there are, of course, many ways of revealing God’s love to others, it is talking about God which is often one of the most significant and most difficult.
In the last two years, my confidence in discussing my faith with others has definitely grown. With this confidence has come an awareness of the need to raise the profile of Christians such as myself in society, not because of the growing presence of atheism and secularism, almost as alternatives to religion, but because of the prevalence of what are, in my view, misconceptions about what Christianity is about, drawn, not least, from impressions of American right-wing politics! Promoting my own views as a liberal thinking Christian, in terms which employ reason and intelligence, has become ever more relevant as a way of engaging with the objections and enquiries of non-Christians.
In some ways I cannot answer the question as to how any of these discussions fulfils the command to make disciples of all nations. However, I am coming to believe that it is not until Christians engage in intelligent and reasoned debate with the questions and oppositions raised by those they meet, and meet the debate on the reasoned terms with which it is usually proposed, that we can hope to respond to the commission of Matthew’s gospel.