When Jesus sent out his disciples in Matthew 10, he didn’t tell them to get formal education at a Bible institute. He didn’t teach them the Roman Road to salvation or a catchy way to draw a picture or use colored beads to share the gospel in five minutes. I’m not dissing those things; I’m just looking more closely at what Jesus did do to equip his disciples.
He sent them out with the authority of the Holy Spirit. They were to not take an extra bag or sandals (I always do both when I travel), go from place to place proclaiming the message of the kingdom, find the people would listen, and expect persecution from those who don’t. Funny, missionaries today tend to spend years trying to be accepted and avoid rejection and persecution from the culture when Jesus told his disciples to expect it.
Jesus also taught the disciples to receive the authority (of the Holy Spirit) to cast out demons and heal diseases and afflictions. He didn’t exactly tell them to stay in their comfortable jobs and do their best to win people over to Christ by their actions without every really saying anything convicting and possibly offensive to their friends, neighbors, and coworkers. How did we get from there to here?
I find it puzzling that discipleship nowadays doesn’t look very much like what Jesus talked about. What if Christians really actually literally followed what Jesus said? There would be fewer of them, but they would give up everything and go everywhere. We’d see miracles and revivals all over the world.
I know I’m posing bold questions, and I’m not attempting to offer solid answers. I don’t think we are totally missing the mark in how we do church and evangelism today according to our strategies, I just think we need to also remember the original strategy Jesus gave.
As a missionary, I see all this on a spectrum with two extremes. One one side, we ought to take time to learn the culture and share the gospel delicately and appropriately at the right time in order to win people over. On the opposite extreme, we ought to just sow the seed everywhere and share the gospel with everybody, expecting persecution from some and salvation from the ones God has chosen.
We see Jesus and the early apostles doing examples of both. Therefore there has to be a healthy balance somewhere in the middle. Take the patience of one extreme and the passion of the other. Take the relationships of one and readiness of the other.
Thankfully, since I have a tendency to complicate things, Jesus kept it pretty simple for his disciples. He taught them to walk with him and imitate him. He taught them who he was and them commissioned them to tell the story. He taught the, to believe in the authority they had been given and then live in a way that the gospel is proclaimed in both word and deed.
For me that looks like giving nursing care like I’m doing it for Jesus…AND taking boldly every opportunity to speak of him. In a way, I am holding the door open through my nursing care. But it doesn’t stop there. That wouldn’t be full obedience. I must also pray for creativity and courage to share Jesus with every person that crosses my path.
What would this look like for you?
Do we really believe the same Spirit given to the disciples and apostles is given to us? If so, that changes how we live life and do missions. Honestly, I think I rely on my own strength more than the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Have I limited the Holy Spirit my whole life?
Psalm 92:10 says, “You have poured over me fresh oil.” Oil in the Bible almost always signifies the pouring out of the spirit of God. I am asking God to pour fresh oil over me.
And with just this simple realization and heartfelt cry to God, something within me changes. Something breaks open. The faucet starts to drip, and a source of living water and new strength starts to moisten my dry thirsty heart.
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