I am utterly amazed at the stark contrast between Jesus sending out his disciples and the church sending out missionaries today.
If you want to be recognized and commissioned by the church to evangelize or start a fellowship, you must go through a lengthy series of steps that cost both time and money.
First, you must be initiated by that church, which means going through their courses, training, and rituals. That is the bare requirement to be a member of that church.
Second, you must go to Bible school, which is usually a four year program if you want to be serious about being recognized and sent.
Third, you must be tested through your service and over time you will be given more and more opportunities until finally you are commissioned with enough trust to be sent.
Overall, this can be an eight year process (usually more) that costs a small fortune.
And that's one believer being sent into the darkness of our world.
There's nothing wrong with this approach, but I want to ask once again: How did Jesus do it?
100% hands on, life on life training for three and a half years in which he sent his followers out during the midst of his ministry.
Cost: free. Time: one to two years. Results: sick healed, demons cast out, lepers cleansed, dead raised, kingdom preached.
Imagine if we could get those results today with just one person. It would be revolutionary.
So how did Jesus do it?
Matthew 10 and Luke 10 are the two texts that tell us how Jesus did it, but the information is startling, shocking traditional Bible schools and bringing immediate objections to most pastors. The reason is its simplicity. It just seems too easy. Dangerous. Unwise.
But here it goes.
First, Jesus tells his followers where to go (only Israel).
Second, Jesus tells his followers what to say (kingdom of heaven is near).
Third, Jesus tells his followers what to do (heal, raise dead, cleanse, deliver).
Fourth, Jesus tells his followers what to take (nothing).
Fifth, Jesus tells his followers where to stay (accepting home).
Sixth, Jesus tells his followers how to handle rejection (declare judgment).
Seventh, Jesus tells his followers how to act (shrewd, innocent, alert).
Finally, Jesus tells them they will be betrayed, arrested, hated, persecuted, and maybe even killed.
That is incredibly simple. If you haven't noticed, it would be the same as a parent giving instructions to a child.
Go here, say this, do that, take nothing, stay at that place, and be ready for rejection and persecution.
How much of a theological training do you need when the only thing you have to know how to say is that heaven has come down to you?
In fact, Jesus promised the rest of what they have to say will be given to them at the time they need it.
To the modern pastor, this is the most illogical and impotent approach to missions.
To Jesus, it was the perfect instruction, leaving his followers dependent on God for all their needs, physical, social, and spiritual.
Now of course, most mission organizations will say they do implement all these steps by using the principles they are encased in.
And I can see that's mostly true (note: Jesus later told his disciples to take provisions) except one area.
In Luke 10, Jesus tells his followers to respond to rejection with these words:
"Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near."
We may have followed all the principles of Jesus in bringing the kingdom to this world except this last part, which is also the part that brings persecution, which leads us to ask:
Are we neglecting this principle because we love people or because we fear persecution?
It's clear that for Jesus and Paul, there was a quick acknowledgment of whether that person was in or out, whether they were receiving your words or not.
That's because the context of their hearing the gospel. All of these steps must be taken together. You must first demonstrate the power of God and reality of heaven coming down before you can preach the kingdom of heaven is near. Only at that time can you know where people stand in relationship to the truth.
Most people in our lives haven't seen the demonstration of the kingdom, so how can they respond with belief and faith? We cannot declare someone to be against the Gospel if we do not show them what it is, for how can you be against something you have no sense of?
We cannot be quick to reject anyone, but we must be willing to tell them the truth in love when they refuse to accept our words after witnessing overwhelming evidence of the heaven Jesus promised.
I can already sense your objection. You may have many examples of people in your own life who only believed after a continuing long-term relationship with constant affection (this is the foundation of most modern missions today), but where does Jesus teach us to do that?
Where does any of scripture teach it?
In fact, scripture teaches that signs will follow them that believe. It is not through our good deeds that we win souls, but it is through God's power. Jesus told us to heal the sick and cast out demons precisely because we can do it through his power.
Only obeying Jesus in everything he said can we expect to differentiate those who believe and are willing to repent from those who refuse to.
There is no polite way to shake the dust off your feet, which directly contrasts with our culturally integrated customs. We must be perfectly blunt, without unnecessary or added offense, and be ready to experience the persecution Jesus guaranteed us.
But I believe that if we trust him in this area that drives against everything in our flesh, we will see the kingdom of God in greater ways than the original Apostles.
So what would be the modern equivalent of wiping the dust off your feet?
Unfriending someone on social media?
Blocking their number?
Telling them plainly you're not willing to meet with them anymore?
Declaring the facts: You are under God's wrath unless you repent and receive his remedy?
Can we follow all of what Jesus told us without picking the commands we feel more comfortable with?
I believe learning to trust God in this area will cause an increase in intimacy with the Father and others.
No one may dare say it, but could this be the most radical, pure love we could show the world?
This is a radical message, but we must take an honest look at Jesus and decide if it's true or not.
If it's true, then it's no wonder that most Christians today find missions and evangelism daunting and unfruitful.
And if it's true, then we have the simple answer that will revolutionize missions around the world, bringing persecution, yes, but also the power of God back to the church.
That's exciting to me.
How about you?
Are you willing to pay the price to bring him glory?