“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.” (Matthew 10:9-10).

While I don’t often use The Message in my Bible reading, I have to admit that every once in a while God uses it to grab my attention. This was recently the case when revisiting the book of Matthew.

Towards the end of Matthew chapter nine, we see Jesus’ formal ministry in action as He made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught on everyone’s level, shared continuously about God’s kingdom, and not only healed diseased bodies, but bruised lives, as well. Yet when He looked over the crowds and saw how confused they were—like vulnerable sheep with no shepherd—His heart broke.

“What a huge harvest!” He said to His disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” (Matthew 9:35-38)

If we push beyond the man-made chapter break between Matthew 9 and 10, we see the continuity between Jesus’ utterance and what happened next:

“The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives…” (Matthew 10:1-4).

After listing the names of the disciples, the passage continues: “Jesus sent His twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.” (Matthew 10:5-10).

I tend to think (perhaps erroneously), “Well, that was then and this is now. Jesus doesn’t empower His followers today like that.”

Then I find myself pausing to ask: Do I feel the same way about Jesus’ last, earthly command to His followers?

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them [the disciples] saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)

* * *

God’s heart for people didn’t change between Jesus sending out the twelve in Matthew 10 and what is referred to in Matthew 28 as the Great Commission, given to His followers after He rose from the dead and prior to His ascension to the Father.

So rather than debate how God perhaps does or doesn’t empower His trusting servants to perform certain miracles, my guess is we need to put our trust in the One who has been given all authority, cease making excuses, and get on with the program.

You know, the loving people program.

The one where we share and teach others about God’s glorious kingdom.

Or don’t we know anyone at all who is confused or aimless?

Hurting or spiritually lost?

* * *

Fear and apathy are two things which come into play when I consider Christ’s command to go out into the harvest fields, whether in my “neighborhood” (locality) or further out.

I might offend someone. Really? I need to self-inquire. Would I not rescue someone from imminent danger for fear of offending them?

They don’t want to hear truth. How do I know the ways God has been working in an individual’s life? God said the harvest is ripe. Am I going to play armchair quarterback and shrug my shoulders, determining God doesn’t know what He’s talking about?

I’m not qualifiedThis is one of my most frequently used set of brakes. How about you? Did Jesus say we needed five years of intensive training before showing compassion to people and sharing love and truth with them? Or require a huge support base?

No.

He told us of the problem: All of us are like lost, sinful sheep without Him (Isaiah 53:6). He has shown us His heart to meet mankind’s most urgent, eternal need: Look! Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He has made clear His desire that His imperfect followers go out in truth and love to their fellow human beings, helping them to know and become followers of Christ (I Corinthians 1:27-31; Luke 24:47, Matthew 28:18-20).

The God of Creation is calling those who love Him to share the marvelous way in which He’s opened the door of forgiveness and His kingdom to anyone who is willing to repent and call it quits on ignoring Jesus’ invitation to eternal life, on working feverishly to convince Him they aren’t sinners, or for living in fierce opposition of Him.

Is there is value in education and training? For sure. Christ’s followers need to know His heart and His Word—and development in these areas should never stop. But don’t be fooled:

One who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior does not need a seminary degree to mirror His heart and share His Word. We can engage in endless studies or training to the point where pursuit of relationship with the very people Jesus wants us to love and serve fails to occur.

* * *

Clearly, there is increasing hostility towards truth within most cultures and Jesus warned us this would happen. Yet there is also an unfolding phenomenon occurring before our eyes. More and more people who don’t know God and His Word are waking up to the fact the world has been selling them a bill of goods. They’re disgusted by it and hungry for truth.

We can help with that.

The obedient child of God—humbly and joyfully—loves others enough to cross the street, share over the workplace cubicle, or search out that person, couple, or family in need of a kingdom transfer.

* * *

How can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? (Romans 10:14, The Message)

The fields are ripe.

Let’s live it!

 

(Could you use help in personally knowing the marvelous “oneness” you can have with the only, true God?  Consider contacting the team at ETL here.)

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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