Christianity 201

July 13, 2014

Seeking the Person of Peace

Luke 9 and 10, along with Matthew 10, deal with the instructions Jesus gives to his disciples before sending them out in two-by-two ministry teams.  One of those instructions is that when they arrive in the town, they are to look for, depending on which translation you use, a “person of peace” or “man of peace” or “son of peace.”

The NIV reads,

If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.

If you read the extended Matthew Henry notes for verses 1-16, you get the very strong impression that the thrust of this passage is that, as they go on their way, the disciples are to search for fertile ground for their message.

This in itself is rather confusing, because we know that, in the parable of the sower, the seed is scattered widely and lands on soil not amenable to growth, soil vulnerable to the elements, and good soil. The disciples seem to be told to go to areas that are already receptive to their message.

As an aside: Have you ever wondered why it seems that so many churches are planted in certain areas creating a glut of houses of worship in those places, while there is dearth of churches in other parts of the country? I recently heard people joking about doing a church plant in Atlanta because, tongue-in-cheek, “Atlanta really needs more churches.”  It does beg the question as to why it appears there is so much activity in some parts of North America, while others seem to be in great need.

The other aspect of this story that should be piquing your curiosity concerns what Jesus sent these disciples out to do. We know that 20th century Evangelism methodology included sending people out two-by-two to knock on doors on residential areas. Further into the 1900s, this method got ‘trademarked’ by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Latter Day Saints (Mormons) to the point where Evangelicals simply stopped doing door-to-door ministry.

But their message was not Christ Jesus crucified, dead, buried for their sins and then risen again defeating death.  Jesus had not yet suffered and died. Jesus had not yet risen from the dead. Their message was, at best, an echo of their rabbi, his twist on familiar ethics as per the Sermon on the Mount; a message of turning from sin, the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Still, their apostolic ministry serves as a model for us and the key to that model is that they were sent out in utter dependence upon God.

So while we’ve left some unanswered questions here, I want to move on to why I was focused on this passage today.  As I left for a morning worship gathering, part of my goal was that God would lead me for someone to interact with either before or after the service per se, and the phrase person of peace flashed into my mind, even though I was fully aware of this phrase’s use in an evangelism model.

In the process, I uncovered the following which appears on several different websites. If someone knows where it originates, I will give proper credit.

When it comes to sharing their faith, most people aren’t strategic. Jesus, however, was very strategic in how he modeled evangelism and sharing the Gospel. In fact, He gave us a template for sharing our faith – and yet most people don’t know what that template is.
What Jesus sends the disciples to do is look for the person of peace…and that method is a reproducible strategy. We see it in Luke 9 when Jesus sends out the 12. We see it in the book of Acts with Peter and Cornelius, Paul and Lidia, Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch looking for these people who are people of peace.

6 Marks of a Person of Peace

And what we see in scripture is the person of peace is the one who welcomes you, who will receive who you are, who is open to you, open to what you have to say about Jesus, open to the life you live because of Jesus.

But they’re also someone who serves you. So often when we’re seeking to minister we want to do everything for somebody else, but the person of peace often wants to make a contribution in some way.

So, a person of peace will be one who

  • welcomes you
  • receives you
  • is open to you
  • will be open to what you have to say about Jesus
  • is open to the life you live because of Jesus
  • serves you

A person of peace could be a passing relationship. Sometimes a person of peace is a permanent relationship. But the real question is, “Who are your people of peace?”

Who are the people of peace who are open to you, who welcome you, who serve you, and then you will see that the Kingdom of God is nearby.

That’s a whole lot of things to think about today.  I look forward to your emails and blog comments. For more study review Matthew 10 and Luke 10.

November 7, 2013

Whoever Has Will Be Given More…

One of the blessings of preparing this daily devotional is the ‘macro’ view I get of all the great people doing great devotional writing. I get so excited to be able to share each new writer I discover. Jeremy Binns has an excellent, multi-faceted blog; this appeared in May under the same title as we used above; in fact, in a rare move, we also ‘borrowed’ the graphic associated with the blog post. However, we’d like you guys to give Jeremy some link love and read this well-written piece at source.

Matthew 13 12

Music People

I’ve often been somewhat mesmerized by people with exceptional musical abilities. One of the skills that I’ve always found particularly interesting is the ability for some people to hear and distinguish the unique parts within a musical piece.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy music to be sure, but for me, it’s mostly an experience as a whole. For others though, they hear the often overlooked bass line, or they pick out the unique percussion elements, and they hear the variations within the rhythm instruments. They hear them all.

While some of this is obviously a skill, I think that it is mostly a great deal of training themselves to hear and listen. I’ve sat with people like this, and they can point out a part, and suddenly I can hear it too. It wasn’t that my ears suddenly became super human, it’s just that I began listening for a sound that I had never been receptive to hearing to before.

Melodies From Heaven

Jesus had a unique ability to hear a melody of a different kind. He had the ability to hear the voice of the Father in an unobstructed and non-distorted manner. He heard each nuance of emotion, each letter of precision, and every heartbeat of passion in those words.

Throughout His life on earth, He walked among humanity with purpose. He functioned as a divine translator between the invisible image of God, and the vision of mortal eyes.

Like the skilled musician, He stopped people in their routines and asked them to listen to a rhythm that they never noticed before. He asked them to tune their ears to the always proceeding voice of their Creator.

He Who Has Ears to Hear…

It all came down to whether or not that individual was willing to listen to the silent song echoing throughout the ages and reverberating within the deepest constructs of our beings. If you’re willing to listen, you’ll hear it, or he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

He used the story in Matthew 13 about the sower who threw seed on 4 types of soil. Only one of them was receptive enough for that seed to take root and produce fruit. The illustration was about the voice of God and mankind’s receptivity to it.

He followed the parable with an often misunderstood verse that is remarkably profound and relevant to each of us when read within the context and understanding that Jesus is speaking about our willingness to hear the Divine Melody.

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. – Matthew 13:12

The Crossroads

Jesus wasn’t much for sugar-coating things, and this verse says it all. Whoever has (a willingness to hear) will be given more (to hear)… Whoever does not have (a willingness to hear), even what they have will be taken from them…

Throughout life, we come to crossroads that will have eternal impact, not only on ourselves, but also those we are connected to. We come to moments when Christ stops by our life and asks us to listen that heavenly sound of God’s voice speaking.

This may be through Bible reading, it may be through a sermon, or it may even be through that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. We have a choice then. Will we stop and listen to what He is saying and apply it to our lives, or will we choose to ignore it and continue on our self-chosen path.

Know this today, every time you stop and are willing to listen, you increase your capacity to hear that voice and it’s influence within your life. Every time, you choose not to hear, you diminish your ability to hear and push His influence further and further from your life.

Do You Hear it Today?

I believe that if you’re reading this, God is whispering to you, even right now. He is calling out to you and asking you to listen to His melody, His purpose, and His plan for your life. Will you have the ears to hear, or will you choose an eternal deafness? Whoever has will be given more…

March 16, 2011

Francis Chan: Do Not Assume You Are Good Soil

…the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity…

The above quotation, and what follows below belong to Francis Chan.  I’m probably the last person in the world to finally get around to reading Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, but when a book finishes as the number one book for 2010 in most Christian bookstore markets, I think that we all need to sit up and take notice of what people are reading…

In the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that the seed is the truth (the word of God).  When the seed is flung onto the path it is heard but quickly stolen away. When the seed is tossed onto the rocks, no roots take hold; there is an appearance of depth and growth because of the good soil, but it is only surface level. When the seed is spread among the thorns, it is received but soon sufficated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. But when the seed is sown in good soil, it grows, takes root and produces fruit.

My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil.

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all thorns.  Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions or commitments are piled on top of it.

Most of us, have too much in our lives.  As David Goetz writes, “Too much of the good life ends up being toxic deforming us spiritually.”  A lot of things are good by themselves but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God.

I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil.

-Francis Chan