Monday, October 6, 2014

The Journey, part 16: Far-Reaching Influence

And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing.

Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening... (Luke 9:2,6, 7a NASB)

We have touched on this before, but perhaps a little closer look at this amazing truth would be helpful. When Jesus sent the disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick, He did not send them to Tiberias or Jerusalem. They were not in the largest cities. They traveled from village to village, doing their work. They were not speaking to thousands of people at a time. They were likely speaking to individuals and, sometimes, to dozens. They stayed in one village until the work was done, then moved on to the next. 

It was not a flashy, media-extravaganza kind of crusade. This was an on-foot, word-of-mouth journey. It is remarkable, then, that the news of their journey traveled all the way to the court of Herod Antipas. Perhaps it indicates how well informed the Tetrarch was, but the spreading of the news more likely indicates the impact of their journey. As they went, the people whose lives were changed by the news of the Savior shared that news with friends and family. The people who were healed shared the news with all who would listen. It was a little like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread, and the news spread far and wide, including to the highest levels of society and those with the greatest authority. 

While the disciples were faithfully proclaiming and healing in remote villages, quietly obeying their Master, news was spreading throughout the Roman government. That news went all the way to the Tetrarch, who was the ruling authority over Galilee, but the disciples in the villages had no way of knowing the impact of their obedience. The only fruit of their efforts they saw was that which was at hand, not that happening as the news spread throughout Galilee. 

One of the beautiful things about obedience to God is the way He multiples the results from the simplest of efforts and the smallest acts of faithfulness. Just as He multiplied the results of those twelve in the villages, He can multiply results from our obedience as well. While we serve obediently, quietly, in what seems to be the most insignificant way, our Lord can take that effort and multiply the result in ways we could never imagine. He can take it to the highest rulers in the land as well as the tiniest village, and we may never know it. 

We are not called to results but to obedience. If our calling is to obedience, and it is, we must ask ourselves how faithfully do we obey? How willing are we to do the work of God in the most unobtrusive ways while allowing God to deal with the results? When we keep the tally of success, there is a tendency to work for the tally rather than for the pleasure of God. As we approach the work God has given us, let us keep our focus on the One we serve and let Him deal with results. 

As Paul wrote, "have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (1 Corinthians 3:6 KJV)

Our job is to serve, and to do it faithfully. The increase is God's job alone.