Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jesus Called You to be a Missionary (A Reflection on Mark 6:6-13)

[Then] Jesus went to the villages around there, teaching the people. He called the twelve disciples together and sent them out two by two. He gave them authority over the evil spirits and ordered them, ‘Don’t take anything with you on the trip except a walking stick – no bread, no beggar’s bag, no money in your pockets. Wear sandals, but don’t carry extra shirt’” (Mark 6:6-9, GNB).

Previously Jesus was rejected in his hometown Nazareth. Hurt, but not giving up. So, he and the disciples went to the villages nearby to tell people who want to receive the good news about the Kingdom of God and to “turn away from their sins” (Mark 6:12). What Jesus is doing here was exactly what he challenged them to be and to do “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). When he chooses the twelve he said, “I have chosen you to be with me. I will also send you out to preach, and you will have authority to drive out demons” (3:14-15).

Do you remember Jesus’ first invitation to you to be his disciple? Just like yesterday, today we are called to him, to equip by him, and then sent out as his representatives. Mission, mind you, is the calling of all God’s people, not just for the selected few. Wherever you are – at the church, workplace, shopping mall, up in the jungle, hospital, campus or home – you’re God’s representatives. To be a Christian is to be a missionary. I always tell my students that God is calling them to be missionaries at home and in their own campuses. One Christian teacher told me, “God sent me to be a missionary at school [he chuckled] and thanks to the government, they paid me to be here.”

Jesus, in his humanity, can’t do it alone. There are about half a dozen of villages around Nazareth, so he “sent them two by two.” Why? Because “two is better than one”? Yes, and more. Send out in pairs is important for mutual support and encouragement. Two also good for decision-making and reliable witnesses (as Deuteronomy 17:6). Sometime I feel sad when some of the churches send preachers or missionaries off their own. Many evangelists are solo operators too. Friend, don’t do it all alone. Christians must not be a one-man show. Soloist is not the pattern of discipleship. Collaborate with others, working together, partnership in the service of him. We have Jesus’ authority over the evil spirits – he is with us.  

Are you ready for mission? Let me helps you to understand how to apply Jesus’ instructions – today. Mark 6:8-9 simply means: We are to travel light, bring minimum provisions as we go, don’t over-do on preparations and don’t be fussy about where to stay or wear. Eugene Peterson paraphrase these verses this way, “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave” (The Message). Preparation is important, but not as important as the preparation of your heart and mind. “You are the equipment.” Remember, even if you’re seem to be alone, Jesus is with you. He is your eternal partner. So don’t be afraid.

Then Jesus said, “Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that place. If you come to a town where people do not welcome you or will not listen to you, leave it and shake the dust off your feet. That will be a warning to them!” (Mark 6:10-11). This is a heavy stuff. Basically, Jesus is saying that if there are people who will welcome you, stay there. If not, go away. Don’t make a scene. In doing mission and evangelism, we need to have the urgency. Urgency means we have to go (that is, we go not wait). Urgency also means “that there is no time to waste on those who are plainly not interested… who are totally unreceptive.” (quote from Crossway Bible Guides: Mark by David Hewitt). Unless God is specifically calling you to reach out to a certain area and people, you must stay. But generally for the unresponsive, please move on to other places and disassociate with them. “Shake the dust off your feet.” We have more places to go, we have to move on. This is a command, this is urgent!

Are you ready for mission?
There will be conflicts, rejections and persecution.
But don’t lose heart – Jesus be with you. Share the joy of Christ.
Go on, you have Jesus’ authority to teach, preach and heal. Amen.

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