Have you ever considered what it is that draws people to become followers of Jesus? Was it is style of dressing? Was it his appearance? Was it his preaching and the way he lead liturgy? Was it his teaching and doctrine? What was it about Jesus that drew people to him? Maybe we need to closely consider what it is that the Gospel this week (Matthew 9.35-10.23) is saying to us in the light of everything that we have been through in the past three months and consider again what it is that God is calling us to. Remember too, that we are chosen, called, blessed, and sent just as the early apostles were. Who did Jesus send anyway? Simon called Peter, who denied him, fishermen, a tax collector, a government rebel, those who are really not all that well known and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him to death. He gave them all authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness, just has Jesus had been doing all over the North of Israel. People were coming to be relieved of evil. People were coming to be healed. People were coming to be made whole. People were coming to hear what God was saying and what God wanted of them.
And there is something that needs to be pointed out here: the message was anything but milk toast. I was taught (by a Baptist pastor) that you make them mad or make them glad that they came to church, but never bore your congregation. Jesus message was simple enough, “Repent and believe for the kingdom of heaven has come near you.” But there is a reality about the Gospel that many North American Christians miss. The Gospel has a nasty but important way of getting in the way of what people want and what people think is good and right because the Gospel is calling us to what is best in Christ. It is the struggle that Saint Paul describes in Galatians 5 where he makes it clear that those who live according to the flesh will not inherit life with the blessed and that those who live in the Spirit have crucified the flesh will all of its demands and desires so that they are no longer controlled by the flesh. This is good news for the Church because it means that the community will be empowered to overcome the obstacles that are in the way, so that those who needs to come into the fellowship of the Church will come because Christ will make his Church victorious.
We must not only be followers of the Lord Jesus, we need to also be makers of disciples, and together we baptize them and together we teach them everything that Jesus has commanded us knowing that he is one among us. Others will define how we believe out of how we live and what we teach. AND! Jesus will be with us in the going and the doing of it. He will be with us and he will participate – even to the end of the world and of time. Freely Christ has given to us all that we need. Freely we must give in return because our hands were empty, and the Father has filled them. We go and in the going we received the hospitality of those who believe the message we preach. And we go because of the eschatological urgency because there is a time and an end of grace, to invite those who would come to do so and follow us as we follow him.
We must also remember that not everyone is going to like us, appreciate our message; want to come and join us. There will be struggles. There will be opposition to us because of the message will proclaim. People will want to stop that; to silence us and “deal” with us. If that sounds scary then remember that wherever we go and whatever we do, we are the Lord’s own chosen people, his priesthood, his holy nation. That where he sends, we go and what he asks of us we will do to glorify his name and make his deeds known to the people of this earth.
What is the Spirit saying to you? What is God giving to you that you might give and serve another? You are his chosen and Christ is blessing you and sending you to where you need to be. The next step is up to you.