Monday, December 16, 2013

Called, Appointed, and Now... Sent (Mark 6:7-13)

Jesus has called and appointed disciples, now He sends them out with a mission. This passage and this moment in Jesus’ ministry is too often quoted and looked to as prescriptive. There are circumstances and cultural norms that much of it impractical as THE way to do missions for all time. That being said, there are some sound principles to apply:

“Two by Two”

The Christian mission is not one for lone wolf types, no matter what you have likely heard. This is ironic because that seems to be exactly what a lot of agencies look for in their missionaries/church planters. However, we need each other. We need mutual support, increased energy and capability, diversity of gifting, and—maybe most importantly—diversity of opinion. In spiritual matters, where we are trying to discover God’s plans and our ways forward in those plans, we need someone to help us distinguish between God’s voice and our own inner voice.

“Authority”

In this passage we see Jesus give His disciples just one thing: authority. We need to keep in mind that we have witnessed several chapters of Jesus giving them a whole lot more including His teaching and the best example of ministry ever, but as He sends them out He invests them with His power. Regardless of how we today think this power is effected in a Christian’s life, it is important to keep in mind that it is His power. We are only able to experience it when we use it as He wishes. A good guess is that this has a lot more to do with the witness’ confidence and courage than spiritual butt-kicking ability.

“Take Nothing”

This is something a lot of missionary types need to evaluate again today. Jesus sent His disciples out with one thing: a message. Their success and or failure depended simply on people responding to that message. Things are not all that different today—or they shouldn’t be. Instead we do not approach people and cultures with the Gospel alone. We try to buy the right to be heard through our cultural superiority in the form of technological or medical advances, or simply through our winning friendliness. Somewhere along the way the most important story in the history of the world wasn’t good enough anymore. Purpose in life must be proceeded with solving people’s problems—usually with dollar signs attached to our solutions. Are we bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, or the Gospel of the Dollar Bill?

“Stay there”

Finally, Jesus had them do mission strategically. This was not a random effort to evangelize the countryside by sharing a two minute Gospel presentation to everyone they met along the way. (In fact, elsewhere Jesus tells them not to talk to people along their route.) The Gospel message is to make its way into culture through natural, familial networks. The key is not adding to the Kingom one random stranger at a time, but rather multiplying the worldview across a culture from house to house. Once a receptive household is found and discipled, the natural course of things is for that discipleship to grow outwards through relationships. When discipleship is done right it reproduces itself.

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