Monday, October 30

Why after 2000 years we are still not even close to fulfilling the Great Commission

In Luke 10, Jesus sets out clear, step-by-step instructions for the 70 disciples to obey in reaching out to "every town and place where He was about to go." If Jesus himself trained, taught, and instructed his disciples in the way He knew would work, why 2000 years later, do we think we can improve upon His divine model?

Jesus instructed his disciples, "PRAY to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest..." (10:2)

We have improved upon this instruction by, 1) substituting 'praying to the Lord of the Harvest' for TALKING about the need for praying, 2) forget about praying, what needs to be done is massive recruitment--get out there and do what has to be done to get people involved, mobilize the masses into training seminars at the largest convention centers in town and invite in the biggest names that will draw the crowds.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "now GO, I'm sending you out like lambs among wolves..." (10:3)

We have improved upon Jesus' words by substituting His command to go for something much more convenient for us: COME! Come to our church...meeting...revival...youth group...evangelistic crusade...ladies brunch...sports event...spiritual emphasis...Bible study...etc. Going out to where the lost are and entering their world is always a lot messier than sitting around hoping and praying they will somehow come to us and whatever event we have planned for them. While I can give a couple of hours for an event at church, I certainly don't have the same couple of hours to go out of my way into the scary unknown. I might be seen associating myself with non-desirables in places not known as appropriate Christian hang-outs.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T CARRY a money-bag, travelling bag, or sandals..." (10:4)

Since we have never really understood exactly what Jesus was trying to say with this obscure command, we have simply ignored it and done just the opposite. We believe it is not possible to do the Lord's work unless we have a large money bag, and having all the necessary implements in our travelling bag for the journey (cars, land, building, salaries, literature, support packages, furnishings, sounds system, musical instruments, laptop, PowerPoint, video projector, etc.) And certainly let's not forget the importance of the having the latest fashion in sandals and attire and other necessary personal implements for the task. Afterall, we want to make a good impression on those we are trying to reach!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T GREET ANYONE along the road..." (10:4)

Jesus obviously didn't understand the importance of greetings in our present day cultures. How is one ever to gain access into "their world" unless we spend a lot of time greeting and building relationships? So, once again we seek to improve (ignore) another outdated command of our Lord and actually spend enormous chunks of time and plan whole evangelistic strategies that never get beyond anything other than "greeting" and nurturing a few relationships. We do ladies teas, let's meet the neighbors, go to ball games together, find someone to drink coffee with, etc. While all these may be good activities, the problem is that we seldom move beyond the "greeting stage" to the remaining instructions of Christ as given in Luke 10:1-9. We tend to lose focus when we stop and greet folks unless we are in tune with the whole strategic process that Christ was teaching. Jesus knows how easily we are distracted, so He warns us upfront to not greet anyone, or do anything else that will distract us from the important mission we are on.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "SAY 'PEACE to this household' and if a son of peace is there your peace will rest on him..." (10:5)

Modern consensus agrees that 'saying peace to this household' is a waste of time. The best way to win a community, town, or city is to get out there in vast numbers and knock on as many doors as possible. When they open the door, invite them to your church, and maybe even preach the Gospel and let them know this might be the very last chance they will ever have for salvation. If they refuse, leave them a Gospel tract, and a bunch of literature from your church and be sure to pray for them before leaving.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "REMAIN IN THE SAME HOUSE, eating and drinking what they offer..." (10:7)

Remain in the same house? Just that one house? You've got to be kidding! The more houses you visit, the more contacts you will have, the greater the number of positive results. You wouldn't want to dare risk everything on just one household. There is a high chance things will not work out and then you will be left with nothing. Plus, what's the big deal with wasting time by eating and drinking with people? Does eating and drinking accomplish anything of eternal value? Don't think so...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "EAT THE THINGS set before you..." (10:8)

It's like Jesus foreknew we would have trouble with understanding the importance of the eating/drinking part, so He said it TWICE to make sure we would get it. But the fact is we have yet to grasp the importance of eating and drinking with people BEFORE trying to proclaim the 'Good News" to them. What's important is getting down to business and sharing the Gospel with lost folks. We eat and drink with our fellow Christians, not with pagans!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "HEAL THE SICK who are there..." (10:9)

Well this one is easy to ignore because we all know that only the Pentecostals and the Charismatics are the ones into the healing stuff. We certainly can side-step this sticky one. We wouldn't want to actually involve ourselves in any controversial issues like healing the sick (might lose our jobs over it!) After all, most of us are cessationists and no longer believe these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are valid today. We have the Bible and that's all we need. So, basically we are off the hook on this one. Next...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "TELL THEM, 'The kingdom of God has come near you..." (10:9)

Well FINALLY Jesus gets around to telling us to do what really matters--the 'main thing'-- which is declaring, preaching, teaching the Gospel message of the Kingdom to these lost people. Let's just cut to the chase and skip all the other stuff. It is time to get down to the important business of witnessing and sharing the Gospel. We are free to skip over the parts of Jesus instructions we don't like or understand. Wasn't his main thrust obviously this last point? We will certainly try to obey this part, but the rest is up for debate and interpretation--in other words, not much of importance in all those instructions preceding this final one.

Is it any wonder that after 2000 years we still haven't finished the task given us by Christ? We think we have a better way of doing things. We have the new, improved version, and yet continuously scratch our heads and wonder why things aren't working out the way they are supposed to?

17 comments:

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

It's a good post, Guy! You touched some touchy areas. How dare you upset the apple cart!

I believe your key words are those related to praying, or talking about praying. If we can get that part right, the rest will fall in place.

KDS

Dorcas Hawker said...

Guy - this is really thought provoking. I'm going to do a link from my blog. Thanks!

Bryan Riley said...

What?! Take the word of God at His word? Really?! Is that what we are supposed to be about? Listening to His voice? Wow, now that really is countercultural.

GuyMuse said...

KEVIN--Yes, pray was #1 on Jesus list of instructions in Luke 10, and certainly needs to be #1 on our list as well.

DORCAS--Thanks for the plug on your blog and for linking here. Sitemeter tells me I get quite a few visitors referred from your site!

BRYAN--It always seems funny to have everyone claiming to be "people of the book" but when it comes down to obeying what the book says, we are then divided big time into all sorts of camps discussing and interpreting what is clearly stated by Jesus. And yet we still don't get it!

Anonymous said...

Upset the apple cart? No, I think you just pruned the entire orchard.

Thank you.

South Asia M

Strider said...

You go Guy! I can't improve on this post. We are working toward the things you mention here and have found many of these ignorable commands have real benefit.
And thanks for adding my blog to your list. I feel like I am somebody now.

Daniel said...

Solo escribo para decir
¡FELIZ DÍA DE LA REFORMA!
Dios continúe bendiciendo su Ministerio
Daniel Dañeiluk
Argentina

Ben & Christine Haley said...

very interesting and challenging...thanks again, Guy. it's been a while since i last looked at your blog. i really need to catch up. take care and God bless.

GuyMuse said...

SouthAsiaM, strider, daniel, ben & christine,

Thanks guys for stopping by and for your comments. Last night I finished reading Steve Saint's "The Great Omission" which is a good book about the many things we OMIT from the Great Commission. I was encouraged to read his thoughts on how important the common man is to the GC and the need for all of us to be involved. If you get a chance to read this book, do! It goes along well with the current post.

antonio said...

Guy, another thought provoking post. "EAT THE THINGS set before you..." I myself have had troubles with this at times literally, being out in the pueblos or in the city and having to make the choice to eat or not, but I must say that every time I have eaten, I have never gotten sick. But, I think the point here is not as much about eating but relationships (which include love). Eventually, you come to the point of I am eating this not because I have to but because I love you. So, what is a little Montezuma's revenge? Nothing compared to a life of joy in Christ. (By the way for everyone, I have never gotten sick eating others food, though I have after eating in restaurants). I think also the "pray" point is something. It always easy for me to try to do something without praying first.

GuyMuse said...

ANTONIO--You are certainly right about the "eating what is set before you". I tend to be squimish about food, but have had the same experience you write about as well. Someone else mentioned that I had overlooked the fact that Jesus sent the 70 out two by two, which is also a very valid point that is often overlooked or ignored. The truth of the matter is that there is a wealth of good stuff in this chapter that merits our regular study.

A 10-40 Window Missionary said...

Guy,

How true, how true...somewhere in the deep dark reaches of my memory I remember hearing, "When all else fails, read the directions."

Maybe, in this post-modern age, 2000 year old directions are considered "out-of-date."

Ross Garner said...

Hello Guy

Thanks for this post reminding us of the Lord's instructions. I just keep getting sucked back into Churchy issues, and I don't find many folk who want to go out into the harvest field. I may blog about this point myself ... and the way that working ALONE rather than "two by two" (verse 1) is not as effective.

On the issue of "take nothing" I was wondering the other day whether it is a mistake to be a full time clergyman with free house and stipend. This is not travelling light. So I even looked to see if there were any "secular" jobs I could do to earn a crust while church planting from scratch. There are! However, I think the Lord wants me to continue working with the church for now teaching and releasing workers into the harvest field.

As for healing the sick ... these miracles are meant to be evidence that the Kingdom is a Kingdom of power not of words. Damned difficult to do though especially for us sceptical westerners. However, my experience is that people do appreciate being prayed over even if the physical miracles are few and far between. Healing of emotional hurts seems a bit easier (even though there is very little written about it in the New Testament). Those of us in the New Wine network are going to recieve some fresh teaching on this subject next year: Bill Johnson has been invited to address our Leaders Conference. see link below

http://www.ibethel.org/home/about/index.php?f=index.html&page=25

When someone has been healed it must be really easy to tell them that the Kingdom of God has come ... don't you think? At the moment we mainly pray for folk who come to church. I am hoping that if we see a few miracles we will be more confident at praying for folk out there.

GuyMuse said...

10-40 window m,

I truly believe Luke 10 and Matt.10 are at least two of the ways Jesus trained his own disciples to work in the kingdom. Can we improve upon the Masters methods? The times change, cultures are different, but the principles remain the same.

ROSS,

I too have often thought we would probably be more effective if we would travel "lighter." Just this past week one of our M was questioned over the discrepancy between their lifestyle and that of Jesus. Ouch! We preach/teach one thing, but people often see another.

The whole "healing the sick" is an area I'd appreciate some more guidance. We too apply this to praying for the sick, listening to them, offering words of comfort or encouragement. I will look up the link you left and see what Bill has to say.

Indeed it is much easier to tell people about the Kingdom when they have been healed through the power of God. See below a few posts to the entry about witnessing in CPM. The first point George Patterson makes is exactly this point. Just wish I could "tap in" better to being able to carry this command of Christ to fruition! :)

stepchild said...

Guy,
Thanks for a great post that really shows how silly we've made things.

There you go again, talking about finishing the task...

Oh, and what's that bit about drinking whatever is put before us?

GuyMuse said...

stepchild,

Thanks for stopping by with a comment. While we keep plugging away at "finishing the task" I confess it seems more distant with each passing day. I guess I use the term to keep us focused on what really matters. It is too easy to become distracted with all the multitude of church activities going on around us that really aren't making much of an impact upon lostness. As far as DRINKING whatever is put before us, I didn't say it, Jesus did.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brother!
Revisiting your blog after a hiatus. Very interesting article. The apple cart definitely needed upending.
I firmly believe part of the reason we do not pray for the sick is because we do not REALLY believe Jesus when He said ,'they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover'.
I'm of Eastern background. Way back when the Lord first got a hold of me, praying for the sick was part and parcle of what was preached. I believed and practiced it.
In fact, my dear late mother came to salvation after witnessing an Acts 3 moment in her hometown. A well known lame man was healed, after being prayed for in the name of Jesus. That Muslim woman was convinced Jesus was who they said He was. No ifs, ands or buts.

But as I have 'grown' in the western world, i have acquired great unbelief and do not now pray for the sick as I once did.
Thankfully, the Lord has once again gotten a hold of me. He is delivering me from all that unbelief and restoring my first love for Him. Blessed be His high and holy name!

Be encouraged, my brother. What you seek is closer to you than you know. Or should that be, 'Who' you seek?