"As you go, make disciples of all cultures, … "
That sounds a little different than we're used to hearing the Great Commission, yet this is a closer translation from the Greek.
The word usually translated as "nations" is, in the Greek, ethnos, from which we get our English word "ethnic." The word does not refer to the concept of our modern nations such as the United States, China, or Israel. Rather, it relates to ethnic units of humankind, to all the cultures and subcultures that make up our world. One of the definitions Strong's gives for the word is "people."
Jesus' commission is to reach and fully disciple every part of the vast mosaic of His world — all peoples, all cultures — for Him.
In Revelation 7, we get a glimpse of what worship in Heaven will be like:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."
So, our mission is to make disciples of all cultures on earth, and we know, in fact, that every nation (ethnos), tribe, people, and language will have been discipled by the time Jesus returns. Our mission — our end goal — is not unclear. So, why does it seem most small groups are so content with the way things are, with our own little circle of friends, staying in the comfort zone, reaching only ourselves?
Our churches and small groups have become the churches of Sardis and Laodicea. We have the reputation of being alive, but we are dead. Our deeds are not complete in the sight ...