“and he called the twelve and began to send them out.”
I’m reading this scripture today, about Jesus sending out his apostles to do his work, and its causing me to think–which some would call a miracle in itself. It’s making me think about the wide gap between how they did ministry then and how we do it today. No, don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another devotion on what the church is doing wrong. We all get it that the gap exists. Today I want to reflect on how to close the gap in a practical, and maybe even scary fun, way. Below I have listed ten things, based on Jesus’ “Disciple training seminar” that could help each of us get out there and do the stuff Jesus called us to do. Here is a ten-step-dare for you and a friend to take that just may change your life and someone else’s.
- Listen. “and he called the twelve…” First, put away all your spiritual books (except the Bible) and your church calendar. Go somewhere quiet and pray. Ask God to lay some person or place on your heart. Don’t wear yourself out with, “How do I know this is God or me?” questions. Just take any impressions you get, by faith. Scary right? I know. That’s awesome. Stop being brilliant and just do it. When you get a sense of what God is putting on your heart, write it down, and simply say, “Yes Lord.”
- Get prepared to go. “and began to send them out…” Next, and yes I’m being serious, set a time and date. Prepare to go. Get it in your mind that God is calling you and will be with you. Commit to it. This is not time for “someday maybe.” You’re in or you’re not. Decide.
- Get a partner. “two by two…” What’s with all this, lone wolf, just me and Jesus, stuff? He always sent his followers out together. Recruit a partner who is just as crazy as you are, who will go with you. Better yet, get someone younger and less experienced than you so you can be a disciple maker along the way.
- Power up. “and gave them authority over unclean spirits…” Okay now we’re gonna freak some of you religious experts out. He gave them supernatural authority to cast out demons. He didn’t arm them with donuts and coffee, but with supernatural power. You and your partner need to spend time praying for God to fill you with his spirit so that you can walk in supernatural power. I told you it was gonna get weird.
- Put away your stuff. “take nothing for your journey except a staff…” You heard it. No cell phone. No ipad. No mp3. Leave your tablet at home. Selfies are a bit contradictory anyway. Don’t bring money or credit cards. Yes I’m serious.
- Dress simply. “wear sandals and not to put on two tunics…” This is no time to show off your designer clothes or your cheesy Christian t-shirts. They don’t help as much as you think. Most people outside church think those clever slogans are silly. Don’t get me started on how the gospel is trivialized by cheesy marketing… oh never mind. Dress simply and modestly. Look like a normal person who just loves people and you’ll be fine.
- Spend time. “When you enter a house, stay there…” When we go visit people in need, why are we in such a hurry to get away? It’s like we want to drop off the food, or the gospel tract and run away as fast as we can. Go prepared to spend time with someone. Don’t walk up and start spouting off Bible verses. Get to know somebody if you can. I realize people are busy, but you’d be surprised at the people out there who have no one to talk to.
- Get over it. “If any place will not receive you…” Hey, some people, possibly most people, aren’t gonna be interested in talking to you. It’s okay. Get over it. Resist self pity. Go to the next person.
- Call for change. “they went out and proclaimed that people should repent…” As you talk to people be prepared to share the gospel. Don’t sugar coat it with a bunch of feel good hype. Tell people who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Tell them why we need a change. Don’t hateful, but be straight forward.
- Go supernatural. “they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them…” If there are any sick people there pray for them. Don’t you dare say something cheesy like, “Lord please be with so and so.” He’s already with them! Lay hands on them (with their permission only ) and ask God to heal them. Now for those who have not become offended at this point and are still reading, ask if there are any other needs you can pray for. Pray and expect God to do something. God calls us to be more than nice people who smile in restaurants. He calls us to be His very presence. So expect God to minister to that home in a powerful way.
Congratulations! You have just stepped out by faith and made a difference for the kingdom. You have also created a relationship that you can build on, when you come back…of course you will, you just may start a revolution in someone’s life. The short of it is this. Go find someone who really needs the gospel and demonstrate it for them. Don’t rely on human gimmicks or your winning personality. Depend on the spirit and expect God to show up and demonstrate who he is. Put away your gospel gimmicks and bring the life of Jesus to someone who needs it. You’ll never be the same.