Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jesus' Traveling Instructions for the Itinerant Preacher

I am a part of a group that meets every other Saturday morning for prayer and for breakfast. One of the requirements of belonging to the group is that we commit to reading our Bibles, journaling our thoughts and then sharing with our group what we have learned. Here lately, I haven't been either able or willing to get up at 5:30am to go pray and meet. I am sure Jesus would treat me the same way he treated the disciples who just couldn't stay awake while he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemene!

At any rate, I have been faithful to keep up with my reading even if I haven't been attending the meetings and we have been reading through the book of Matthew. As I read through Chapter 10 where Jesus is sending his disciples out to preach to the people - the Jews in particular that the "Kingdom of Heaven is near", it occurred to me that he had some very interesting instructions for them. What follows is a few lists to consider along with a conclusion at the end. I will spare you and me both the hassle of having scripture references at the end of each item on in the lists, but you can find them all in Matthew 10. Read this as if Jesus has just handed you a list written as if He was giving the instructions personally to you.

Packing List
1. Power to cast out evil spirits and heal diseases. You can pick this up from me before you leave.

Instructions on what to do (and not to do) as you are traveling.
1. Go to only those I have sent you to - the people of Israel - God's lost sheep
2. Announce to them my Kingdoms imminent arrival
3. Heal the sick, cast out demons
4. Give of yourself freely - after all, I have given you much.
5. Take no money
6. Don't pack a suitcase
7. No walking sticks allowed
8. But be sure t accept the hospitality offered you as your work is worthy of it
9. When you arrive at a town, look for a place to stay - someone who will give you shelter, comfort, food and rest. Stay there until you leave. Be sure to bless those who have offered their homes for you to stay in - if their home turns out to be unworthy, rescind that blessing.
10. If a village rejects you and my message to them, leave and shake the dust off of your feet as you leave. You tried, they wouldn't listen. When you are persecuted in a village, flee to the next one.
11.Seeing as how I am sending you out as sheep amongst wolves. Be wary as snakes and harmelss as doves. In other words, be smart, but act with humility and integrity.
12. Don't be afraid. They may (and will) kill your body, but I have your back spiritually - they can't take you soul - it's mine. You will ive on for ever with me in heaven.

What to Expect.
1. You will be beaten in the synagogues (those local pastors won't care much for your message)
2. Expect to be arrested and brought into court to stand trial for being my disciples. DON'T forget to remember to use your opportunities presented by being arrested and prosecuted to share my message with the kings and governors you will go before.
3. As for your defense, don't worry about what to say. I will give you the right words at the right time when you need them.
4. Everyone will hate you because you follow me, but stand firm in your convictions and you will be saved.

Warnings/Things to Remember as You Travel.
1. You are mistaken if you think I came to bring peace to the world. I have actually came to shakes this world to its foundations!
2. If you love anyone, thing or place - including yourself and your family more than me, and refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not really my disciple. If you attempt to hang on to your life and all its trappings, you end up losing it all. But if you surrender all to me, you'll find life - and find it abundantly!

Now consider these lists. Are you still as excited about serving Jesus as you might have been before reading them? Or would you seek to theologize, contextualize or otherwise dismiss them as being irrelevant for your life today? If you read on to the first verse of the chapter 11, you'll see that Jesus left to practice what he just told His disciples to do. As a matter of fact, He was already practicing it. He came to earth with what? How many supplies did he bring? How much power did he bring? He didn't bring anything - He came naked, a helpless infant born to lowly parents. But just as He told His disciples he would provide for them as they had need (or at least He told them how to get their needs provided for) - God also provided for His needs as He went about His Father's will. So we can naturally assume that He will also provide for our needs at the right time - when we need His provision most.

So... are you ready to travel?


Fairwind said...

Alan - so you also have become a blogger!
And yes it is very humbling to read the instructions for a servant of Christ. No, I certainly dont measure up!!!


Alan Paul said...

Funny how we can never measure up to Jesus' instructions or requirements about anything. But I guess that's the point, we need to understand that we need Him to accomplish anything worthwhile for His Kingdom.