The second key principle for kingdom advancement that we discovered in verses 5-9 of Luke 10 was
- Speak / Represent Jesus’ Peace in order to find a person of peace (Verse 6) – look for one receptive person
To understand what Luke is describing here, we need to cross reference his language use with similar language describing similar things elsewhere in the bible. In John 14:27ff, Jesus, whilst speaking to his disciples about what was about to unfold, uses the word ‘peace’ in a particular way. He uses the Aramaic word which like Hebrew, describes inner well-being, contentment, wholeness as different to the Greek usage which simply describes the absence of war or conflict. In Philippians 4:7 Paul uses similar phraseology when he describes ‘The peace which passes all understanding’ but then gives us terrific clarity when he contextualizes this later in the verse by simply adding the idea that this is the peace one experiences as they become more intimate in their relationship with Jesus or in Paul’s words ‘IN Christ’.
Luke is simply saying that to find a person who has the potential to discover this sort of assurance in their soul, the missionary must speak, indeed represent the intimate presence of the wholeness of Christ or the peace which passes human understanding. You can’t represent it if you don’t empty yourself of self for the sake of being filled with Christ.
This carriage of peace is attractive at a level beyond human manipulation and as such can’t be masked or faked. The responsibility that Jesus gives his followers is to carry him and nothing of self because what people see will be observed and received. Anything else is only a portion of Jesus and that doesn’t sustain and reproduce the kingdom of heaven. Here’s the next key principle.
- Love them unconditionally i.e. for WHO they are right WHERE they are – identify with the receptive person for the sake of THEIR sphere (verses 7 & 8)
Verses 7 and 8 give us fresh insight into something which we can feel is so overwhelmingly challenging that it’s not possible. Jesus makes unconditional love real and accessible by describing it as how we accept the place that the person we are engaging is at, their location, their emotional journey, the place they are at on their way towards faith, even their culture and defaults that shape the way they think about things. Luke simply uses the idea of ‘staying’ and that suggests stay with who the person is, where the person is and not try and persuade them into a space that we are more comfortable with. As such, Jesus can transform hearts into something that looks like him rather than something that looks like you and me.
We need to trust our sender to both provide all he’s promised and to do that wherever we go if we are obedient to his purposes. This is the difference between going where we believe we should go or going where Jesus sends us.
Reflection-Action 1 As you pray through this devotional reflection, how do you respond to the idea that what you carry in your life is directly proportional to the degree of intimacy in your relationship with Jesus? If you gave yourself a score out of 10 that truly indicated the degree of intimacy you are experiencing in your relationship with Jesus, what would that number be and why have you scored yourself that way? What is God currently showing you about the importance of a deeper relationship with him?
Reflection-Action 2 Can you relate to the idea that when we are sharing life and faith with those we come in contact with that we are more likely to develop that relationship by gradually moving it into a space that we are more familiar and comfortable with? Why do you think it is that you and I believe it is intrinsic to the impartation of gospel truth that people we connect with have to become more like us and move into unfamiliar things for them in order to see more clearly? Think about whether you have ever shared your faith with someone in their sphere of life and comfort without requiring them to leave that space. For example, have you ever asked someone to respond to the claims of Christ on their lives without asking them to accompany you to a church meeting on a Sunday? What Jesus asks THEM to do in their journey of response is just as important and relevant as what Jesus asks from us so we don’t need to create the environment when Jesus sends us to people to love them where and as they are. Pray and reflect on this, writing down what emerges from your wrestle with this idea.
Reflection-Action 3 Read Acts 10: 14-15 and get some context from the rest of the chapter if you have time. Journal anything that God speaks to you about as you read and pray.