If you look around at Religion today, you would have to conclude that the Great Commission went something like this:
“Go Ye therefore into all the world and build great buildings. Call them ‘Churches’ and put one man in charge of each building. Give him all power to make sure that nothing happens without his permission. That man in charge shall be called, ‘Pastor,’ ‘Priest,’ ‘Pope,’ ‘Reverend,’ ‘Rabbi,’ ‘Vicar.’ etc. Let that man teach that his Church is the only one that understands the Gospel and he shall work hard to keep his ‘flock’ from being ‘contaminated’ by any other theology. Keep the flock busy raising money to maintain the building or build even bigger facilities, and of course, pay the leaders handsomely...
“Use dinners, movies, pizza parties, golf and fishing expeditions etc. etc. to raise money, keep them amused and call it all ‘fellowship.’ Remind the flock that they are sheep (sheep are notoriously weak and stupid) and do not let them dwell on the Scripture that says, ‘They shall rise up like eagles.’ (Isaiah 58)... Eagles are notoriously strong and courageous.
“Build even greater buildings and call them Seminaries. There you shall diligently teach students how to go out into the world and accomplish all of the above. Teach them how to deal with the old fashioned folks so we can make room for ‘progress.’ If traditionists come up with ideas for such foolishness as personal ministry to the poor and needy or to save unborn children or stand against the Islamic threat or the sodomite agenda, or anything else that might distract from the ‘important’ issues listed above, there are ways to put them down quickly. Call them ‘cults,’ ‘heretics,’ ‘backsliders,’ etc. and urge your flock to avoid them. Insist that all activities must be approved by the leader of the church, but seldom approve them unless the ideas come from the rulers themselves. The sheep need to understand that all decisions must come from the all powerful earthly Shepherd. After all, anything else might draw attention (and money) away from our established leader and diminish his power over them.
“Teach those church leaders to make a pact with the Government. Call it a 501c3 and teach that it is OK to serve Caesar first because it makes money for our cause. Never let the sheep know that churches in America were tax exempt from the beginning and do not need such a pact. Teach the flock that because of this pact we cannot talk about politics in church. Politics, of course, is anything that we would rather not take a stand on for fear of offending the false god of political correctness... (or a generous donor). And never tell them that anti Christian groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, etc AND most Universities are also 501c3 tax exempt organizations and they do a LOT of politics.”
I have just described the church situation today. There are exceptions, of course, and be very grateful if you find one. So what does the Great Commission actually say?
Matthew 28:19-20 KJV. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: TEACHING THEM TO OBEY ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.” Unfortunately, most fail miserably when it comes to the teaching/discipling part.
Jesus said. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
So what are the fruits of the modern Establishment Church? Well, we have spent untold billions of dollars and are losing ground. The latest polls show that those who call themselves Christians are a dwindling number. We are losing our youth to the secular world and we have pretty much totally lost the culture. Not exactly “fruit” to be proud of.
So, what do you suppose might happen if we paid more attention to the commands of Jesus? Jesus taught that His Kingdom is not made of brick or stone but rather consists of one body with many parts and He himself prayed for unity within that body. He taught that His body should assemble together to encourage and uplift one another, bear one another’s burdens, be salt and light to the world , speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, fight for the oppressed, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, help widows and orphans, visit the sick and imprisoned and understand that as we do anything for the least of these, we do it unto Jesus Christ Himself. These words come directly from Him. AND He predicts dire consequences for those who ignore His commands. (Matthew 25:31-46).
Search the Scriptures and you will never find “Go to Church” as a command of Jesus. In fact, it is quite the opposite. He commands His Church to “GO!” Yes, GO out into the world and be salt and light, minister to the poor and hurting, etc. Every translation of the Bible agrees that the word “Church” in the Bible means the gathering of the believers. Ask almost anyone today and they will point to a building and call it “Church.” The Bible says the purpose of gathering together, whether it be in that building or anywhere else, is to encourage one another to go out and do good and be known for teaching the truth in love and doing good deeds, and by this the world shall know that we are His Disciples.