“If this is your first Big Tent, you are in for an exciting time,” said Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly, greeting the crowd gathered at the JW Marriott hotel here. “What you should expect is fellowship, worship and education ― we hope you will find them fulfilling and inspiring.”
Bolbach told the throng that the Big Tent “will be like a General Assembly … except there will be no voting machines, no clocks timing the speakers and no moderator rapping a gavel.”
Preaching from Matthew 28 ― the Great Commission ― preacher Mark Labberton called that Matthew’s book “the smelling salts Gospel,” designed to “wake us up to God’s vision and purpose ― challenging, stimulating and anything but comfortable.”
The commission given, Labberton said, to “11 believer-doubters,” is to “live [Jesus Christ’s] life in the world so that His power shows up everywhere.” Jesus’ call to discipleship can be stated: “Go in my name and live my life,” said Labberton, who professor of preaching and director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Recounting a conversation he had while serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley with an unconventional University of California student, Labberton said the young man told him that “people like me are a dime a dozen.” The young man then stopped Labberton with the comment: “I’m more interested in people like Jesus more than people like me.”
That’s the hope and vision of the Great Commission, Labberton concluded. “The call to discipleship is to live lives that look like Jesus’,” he said. “The critique … that’s most compelling is ‘Where’s the evidence of the life you say you have ― where’s the love?’ For some there is evidence, but for many, many more, they’re waiting.”