The unity of humankind is to be achieved by witness to truth in love, co-working with God. In a remarkable continuity with Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, and Paul’s repeated affirmations of human unity under Christ in his letters (Col. 3:11), the prophet Isaiah spoke long ago to Israel for the God of Israel: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6). But this was not to be achieved by political or military power, though the Jews of Jesus’s day, including his own apostles, could think only of that. Many today have gone no further in their understanding.
By the force of truth and love alone—spoken and lived—the people of Christ, as they dwell in their part of the earth and move about on earth, “make disciples of all nations,” all ethnic groups, all kinds of people. But what that means must be rightly understood if it is to be effectual for good in the way Jesus intended. Most Christians of the Western world today take this directive to “make disciples” to mean doing “missionary work” in other parts of the world, especially in “underdeveloped” or “backward” countries. That is how it has been presented to them. Thus they look to “the ends of the earth” from where they stand and forget that the process starts in “Jerusalem and Judea,” which in their case is precisely the Western world and its churches. It is right where they live. The “all nations” is above all our own “nation.” North America, for example, is the primary place for North American Christians to make disciples from the various human groupings, surround them in trinitarian reality, and “teach them to obey everything” Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19–20). The failure of the American church to do this is very obvious, but to fail here “at home” is to fail the need of the world as a whole.
From Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. Copyright © 2009 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.