A former missionary to Bolivia and Missions Director, Jerry Kidd, told the story of a continental conference on missions held in Africa. One unknown speaker stepped to the microphone and proclaimed a single word… “NOGONOLO!“, and then stepped back. The crowd was quiet and no one understood the word he’d spoken. It didn’t seem to be part of any particular language or dialect.
He stepped to the microphone again and proclaimed, “Nogonolo!” Another pause; another moment of awkward silence. The third time he spoke, he slowed down… “No GO… no LO.”
The crowd finally understood. Matthew concluded his gospel with Jesus’ Great Commission to the church in these words:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV
Speaking with precise theology, God’s presence is infinite. He cannot be confined by space or time. So he is technically “present” always and everywhere. But the Bible certainly infers that there is power when God is “present” in a personal way – when he manifests his being and ability among his people.
The Great Commission requires our obedience. It demands a response of going, and once we are going, we are promised to experience Jesus’ powerful presence among us; not for our own benefit alone, but so that the whole world might know.
Here’s the convicting truth behind Nogonolo. We want God to show up and work wonders and miracles, for people to be drawn and saved and lives to be radically changed by the power of the gospel. But do we want his powerful presence badly enough to obey the Great Commission to invite him to work in, around, and through us?
To put it more bluntly: Saving the nations is God’s work, not ours, but He has promised to do His work of saving people as we do our work of faithfully living out and verbalizing the gospel to every generation and every people group on this planet.
Believing that God exists is a good start. Believing that he is all-powerful and ever-present is even better. But understanding that God’s powerful presence is something he grants “as we go” is essential to the unfinished task before us.
I believe there are some important implications of this truth for believers and church leaders. Particularly…
- We need to think bigger about what could happen if God granted his powerful presence to our gatherings and our goings.
- We need to set bigger goals based on our enlarged view of God. Rick Warren says “the size of your God determines the size of your goals.”
- We need to take greater risks, chance a failure or three, and count the cost of doing things in God’s power that bear much fruit around us.
- We need to start, to go, to work hard, study hard, pray hard, and stay in hot pursuit of the white-hot enjoyment of the glory of God.
No go? No obedience? No faith?… Then no lo. No observance of the awesome feats God can and will accomplish as his powerful Holy Spirit uses his powerful word to move the most impossible mountains of all – the hearts of lost people.
So let’s get going.