Serpents and Doves.  On Wisdom, love and winning the world

So, once again, we see Jesus. Being absolutely crazy.

He had just commanded us to pray that the Father send Laborers into the Harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
And, in typical Jesus style, he immediately (hearing from that same Father), set about bringing the answer. He called his own twelve guys, instructed them, and sent them out.

Matthew 10:5 (The Message version) 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.”
Matthew 10:16-17 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”

So, yeah, Jesus WAS the answer.

And, here, He created the answer. To a really big problem.
But what He said seems seriously crazy. And, er, not at all how we would do it.
Are still doing it.
So let’s look at how Jesus would do evangelism.
If He were directing it. Because He is.
Isn’t He?

Matthew 10:5 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.
Touch the untouchables. My apologies to my friends from India here, but I thought that only India had a caste system. Had people who were “untouchable.” Oh. Wait.
I think that the most radical thing Jesus said here was that reaching the “untouchable” people right in your own neighborhood is way more important than taking a big mission trip to another continent or culture.
Now, if you know me, you know that I was called to serve as a foreign missionary doctor when I was 7. And missionary endeavors that are cross-cultural and effective are sort of a big deal for me.
But somehow, that wasn’t Jesus’s priority. “Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.” Wow.
Check out the same theme, in Acts, chapter 1.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Jesus’ charge to the disciples here ended with the ends of the earth.

But it didn’t start there.
It started…in Jerusalem.

Right. Where. They. Were.
And this is the take-home: If you don’t openly share Jesus where you are, why should He send you anywhere else?
A witness doesn’t have to be obnoxious.

They do have to tell the truth.

It’s required.
Would you recommend a great movie to your next-door neighbor?

Sure you would.
But have you ever mentioned what a great Savior you’ve heard about?

Um….
So there’s the problem. We’ve all seen “witnesses” we wouldn’t want to be.

Competitive. Judgmental. Not really, “Wow, check this out!” But more “I know something you don’t know….” (Sing-song voice here…). Or, even worse, ‘My religion’s better than your religion!”
Throw up. That is NOT the Gospel of God.

It was never, and I mean NEVER, meant to be a vehicle for our own pride.
But when it’s done with love, humility and respect for the other person, nothing can outshine it.

And it doesn’t take mad skills.
Just love. And willingness to try.

2). 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 untouchable. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
I know, I know. I’ve gone all charismatic on you.

But this is Jesus.

And His recipe for going to the lost included healings, miracles and, er, “kicking out demons.” Wow.
Now we can do some healing through missionary doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc. And that’s good. Great, even. Christian history is full of noble healthcare workers who laid down their lives in this way.

But that wasn’t always how Jesus did it. In these chapters, He performed real miracles.

And trained his staff, before they were even born again, to do so as well. And they didn’t always seem very spiritual.

And I think that that’s the secret.

When He tells us to do something amazing, it has nothing to do with our goodness or power. Just our obedience. Willingness. Faith.

I’ve seen some amazing things.

You will, too.

3) You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
No, Jesus didn’t plan for us to build a zoo. But He did give us pretty clear directions.
He wants us to be smart. As cunning as a snake. This might include things like learning local customs and laws, whether at home or abroad, before you take to the streets to preach.

Or give away a car. (I almost went to jail in another nation for that one, once.)

Maybe it means not being naive about human nature. About what unbelievers, and sometimes, believers, might do. Out of jealousy. Spite. Competition. Ouch.
And yet, while being so very aware you of the pitfalls, we are never to walk in pride. Not carry ourselves as if we know more than others. And that’s cool.

Starting at home.

Believing for the miraculous.

Combining great wisdom with great humility. Or at least trying to.
Gee, maybe it’s just me.

But that doesn’t seem like the way it’s often been done.
But we can try.

And I think we’ll see something amazing happen.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
And THAT is what it’s all about.
Peace out.

 

Matthew 10:5 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. Matthew 10:16-17 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. 

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