Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sending the seventy: part 5

Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. (Luke 10:3-4 NASB)

We are looking again at the sending of the seventy. Jesus had selected seventy disciples to go on an evangelistic tour. He had assigned them specific communities and they were to share the good news of Jesus and perform attesting miracles in such a way that those communities would eagerly receive Jesus when He came. That's a sermon right there, isn't it? Do we present Jesus in such a way that those around us are eager to meet Him? 

This was not the kind of evangelistic tour, complete with elaborate sound systems, tour buses, and music teams that we see today. Jesus explained to the men that it was going to be a hard job. They would be like lambs among wolves. People would be against them. There would be controversy and strife. They were to have a quiet, gentle spirit, as a little lamb, no matter what happened. 

To complicate matters, they were not to carry a money belt, extra pair of shoes, or a bag. No backpack, no suitcase. No extra underwear or clean tunic. No money for a cup of coffee along the way. No picnic lunch. They could not even carry their toothbrush. The were to be completely unencumbered by stuff. 

I read that and think that I might have balked. I have to have my toothbrush! I can't go without clean undies! What will I eat? I can hear my whining and complaining already and, in light of what I know those men experienced, I am ashamed of my need for stuff. Jesus was sending them out on a hard journey, yet it was also an exciting adventure. Unencumbered, they were traveling so light that they were utterly dependent upon God's provision for their daily needs. It took the faith of a mustard seed to do it, and I wonder if my mustard seed of faith would be enough for such leanness of travel. 

Now, realistically, the twelve had already gone on one of these stripped down journeys and returned with enthusiastic stories of the wonders they had seen. Their trip had been hard, but worth every minute of it. "You will love it! It will change your life!" they probably told the seventy, and I suspect their encouragement helped those seventy men make that first step toward the exciting future God had for them. 

The no-stuff journey was not without a point. When they arrived in a community, they would quickly know the heart of that community by the hospitality they received, and allowing the people to provide for them would, in a small way, make them a part of the community. It would give them "traction" and a better opportunity for sharing God's Word. Lest you think the seventy were going as freeloaders, remember that they were not just going to preach. They were going to be performing miracles of healing, as well. A meal and a sleeping mat would be well-repaid by a miracle of healing. As always, that with which Christ had equipped them was all they needed. 

Stop a moment and consider this journey. During this season of advent, there is no better time to remember the journey Christ made in relation to the one He asks of us. He left heaven. He brought nothing but the skin in which He was wrapped, and it was enough. That fragile coat of skin was the "equipment" with which Jesus redeemed the world. It was that with which He redeemed you and me. In the hands of God, the skin that clothes us is more than enough to accomplish His purposes, if we are willing. But are we? That is the question we must answer. Are we willing to allow our Lord to strip us of our addiction to things and serve Him without encumbrance? That's how He served us, and, if we would follow Him, we must be willing to do no less. 

During this advent season, let us open our hands and allow our Lord free access to all the things to which we cling. We may not have to relinquish it all, but we must be willing to do so. Travel lean, dear ones. It's the greatest journey of all. 

-------
The new book, The Waiting: When the Answer to Your Prayer is Delayed and Your Hope is Gone, as well as The Clay Papers and The Road to Bethlehem (an advent devotional guide) are now available at http://www.leannahollis.com/online-store/ Get your copy today.  
-------
Here's the link to last night's farm story about Fred the Rooster. He's had a little trouble remembering who is boss: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/12/knowing-whos-boss-fred-rooster-forgets.html