Friday, August 21, 2015

Jesus Commissions the Twelve: Responsibility to bring the Message and to Care for the Messenger

I doubt Jesus looked like this. Just a picture.
Don’t take any money in your money belts – no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveller’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day” (Matthew 10:9-15, NLT).

Jesus commissioned the twelve (read Matthew 10:1-8). These instructions were given to them. It seem, at first, to be contrary to normal travel plans (I’m thinking of our last Timor Leste medical mission trip. We brought lots of medical stuffs and our bags are heavy), but they simply reveal the urgency of the task and its temporary nature. This was a training mission only; the apostles were to leave immediately and travel light, taking along only minimal supplies. Instead of being sent out as an isolated individuals, Jesus sent them in pairs (Mark 6:7). Each pair of disciples would enter a city or village and stay in the home of a “worthy person.” What does it mean by “worthy person”? “Worthy person,” based on the context, is someone who are eager to “welcome” and “listen” to their message.

The disciples’ dependence on others had four good effects: 1) It showed that the Messiah had not come to offer wealth to his followers; 2) It forced the disciples to rely on God’s power and not on their own provision; 3) It involved the villages, making them more eager to hear the message; and 4) it built long-term relationships. As we do mission, let us take notes of these four dependence effects of Jesus’ command to his disciples.

Jesus also had harsh words concerning those who would reject them and their message. Shaking the dust from their feet would demonstrate to the people that the disciples had nothing further to say and would leave the people to answer to God. Jesus was clearly stating that the listeners were responsible for what they did with the Gospel. As long as the disciples had faithfully and carefully presented the message, they were not to blame if the townspeople rejected it. Likewise, we have the responsibility, but we are not responsible when others reject Christ’s message of salvation.

Think about this: These days, with instant communication, modern transportation, and other high-tech resources, we can be tempted to maintain our independence or to rely on impersonal ministry methods. But God created us to live in relationship and to do his work with others. This training assignment implies that we have clear responsibility to care for those who minister among us, especially those who visit from out of town or those who are not normally among us. What can you do to relate more personally to those who minister in your community? Also this training shows that we are very much responsible to bring the message of the Kingdom of God to the town, village, campus or community that we are in right now. Besides ministering the message through social media (like what I do with my Blog and Facebook now) are you building a long-term and personal relationship with the people you’re ministering now? One more lesson: There is no “lone ranger” in the work of God. Find your partner.

I have to rethinking my own ministry now. Pray.

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