Many of our conversations are just surface. How is the weather? How is our favorite sports team doing? How the country or church or family would be so much better off if they only followed our advice. Every now and then we talk about what's really going on in our deepest pain and faith. It is at those times when we really want someone who will listen.
Let us be thankful for those who listen when we share our faith.
We will look at a simple formula for sharing our faith: eat, heal and tell. We will also look at two kinds of Christian, numerous principles of mission, 70 apostles and the joy of sharing our faith.
Eat, Heal and Tell
Jesus makes spreading the Gospel simple. We just eat, heal and tell (Luke 10:1-20). Eating is a natural part of life and a good way to mix. Not everyone will invite you to eat with them, but we can often invite others to eat with us. Let us do the inviting and be known as hospitable people. We may not all be able to heal miraculously as Jesus did, but we can all help heal other people's hearts with kind words and encouragement. Let's look behind the outward show and see the need for healing. Along with eating and healing is the natural telling of each other's stories. That doesn't mean that we shove Jesus down people’s throat, but it does mean that we tell something. How much is up to us and the wisdom that God gives us.
Advisors vs workers
Every church has a great treasure trove of advice, some in the form of helpful analysis and some in the form of not so helpful criticism. Evangelism is the positive side of gossip. One brings good news; the other brings negative commentary. We have people who work in many different fields and have an incredible variety of training. Helpful advice is abundant, needed and welcomed. What most churches lack is harvest workers (Luke 10:1-20). We cannot do the work of Christ as loners who only go to church and ignore our communities. We must go out of our homes and be involved in neighborhood activities. There are many opportunities to get to know our neighbors and we need to take advantage of them. There are two kinds of people: spectators and players. Spectators analyze, players do. Let’s be doers.
In Luke 10:1-20 are important principles of mission. Go “two by two”, not alone. “The harvest is plentiful” and “the workers are few”, so we will need helpers. “Ask the Lord of the harvest”, prayer is important. We are “lambs among wolves”, open to attack. “Do not take a purse”, rely on God and “do not greet anyone on the road”, no loitering. Speak “peace” everywhere. Look for someone who “promotes peace” as fertile soil for the Gospel. Allow them to set the agenda and menu, don’t impose your culture. Graciously accept “wages” for your efforts. Stay put, so people know where to find you. Be a healing not a hurting presence. Tell people about the “kingdom of God.” Sometimes you are “not welcomed”, so just warn them and leave. Don’t put your mission work ahead of your salvation.
In Luke 10:1-20 we may notice that the disciples had joy in doing the work of God. This is how it is meant to be. When we have joy in doing church work such as board meetings, performing church service, choir practice, Bible studies, letting our light shine in the community, then we are on the right track. When we are no longer enjoying our service to God, it is often an indicator that we are doing something we ought not to be doing. It could be that we are not taking a Sabbath day’s rest. It could be that we are doing something on our own strength for which God has not gifted us. It could be any number of things. What truly gives us joy is being one of the people whose names are written in heaven.
The 70 apostles
What! Who’s the crazy guy claiming there were 70 apostles? Actually that is how the eastern church refers to them and with good reason. Eastern Christians do not use the word apostle as exclusively as does western tradition. It became fashionable in the west, which was further removed from the original Greek of the New Testament, to refer almost exclusively to the original twelve as apostles. However, the Greek term simply means someone sent away, in this case, on a mission. The opening words of Luke 10:1-20 could easily be translated as “the Lord appointed seventy-two others and apostled them two by two ahead of him” that is, if we made a verb out of the noun apostle as does Greek. We simply translate it that Jesus “sent” them, and that is just what apostle means, a person sent.
Whoever listens to you
It’s very pleasant to be listened to, instead of being interrupted or someone only pretending to listen or worse, rejecting us and turning their backs. My father was a very successful salesman who loved the word no, because he knew it meant he did not have to waste any more time and could move on to the next potential customer. He taught me that sales was just a numbers game, and that the more people he met the more sales he made. Jesus Christ was despised and rejected and so will we be, but the more people we talk to the more we win. In Luke 10:1-20 he said that, “Whoever listens to you listens to me.” People don't reject or accept us but Jesus. What a privilege and blessing to be listened to when we talk about Jesus.
Let's not be afraid to talk about our deepest spiritual faith and hope. Let's get out of our church hermitages into our community and pray for God to give us an open door.