Church this week…

By Alex Russon / March 4, 2024

There comes a time in our lives when rubber must hit the road. We’ve planned  a project, mugged up endlessly for an exam or deliberated long and hard over a difficult upcoming conversation. And now ,after much preparation, the moment of truth arrives when we’ve to act, to speak, to engage.

The scripture we shared at Stonehaven Baptist Church this week addressed that very notion. We were reading the section where Jesus sends out his disciples to spread the good news of his existence, to heal people of their physical and mental ailments and to demonstrate what good living truly looked like.

Up until now his disciples had been spectators and students, learning about Jesus, but now he commissioned them, sending them out on a mission to be his apostles, his empowered representatives, just as he himself was the supreme apostle of his Father in heaven. It was their time, in their journey with Christ, not simply to come unto him but to be sent by him. The Christian life is one of coming and going, seeking and finding, and here his chosen disciples were being ‘sent’ as his hands and feet in the world.

He sent them out two by two which may seem a twee reminder of the animals entering Noah’s ark but this comparison is more convenient than meaningful. By sending them out to villages and towns in twos he was encouraging the consequent legacy of the work they’d be undertaking. We like to have a witness to corroborate a version of events rather than relying entirely on a sole account; by sending two individuals one could proclaim and the other verify,

And what were these men to do having been sent out? What was their purpose? Well they were given the authority to preach God’s word and to heal people from unclean spirits, neither of which they could effect of their own accord, only when empowered by Jesus. Unclean (or evil) spirits were and are very real, life being a spiritual battle between good and evil spirits. Believers of God are also believers of the devil, in that we accept they co-exist, it’s just a case of choosing which one to follow! The devil himself believes in God, 100%, but makes it his life’s work to steal people away from God hence the term ‘spiritual warfare’, it’s for Christians to decide who they should pursue.

These ‘sent’ men were initially apprehensive, they felt inadequate, a trait shared with one of the giants of the Old Testament, Moses. He too was sent out by God yet pleaded not to be, believing himself too weak. He was slow of speech, a meek fellow without much oomph as an orator or leader and begged God to select someone else. But God chooses such people for a reason. Those who are weak, like Moses, who are otherwise fearful and powerless, God uses to demonstrate his power. Onlookers know fine well that these individuals aren’t capable of wonderous acts themselves and only the power of a holy spirit could truly achieve such ends.

But back to the apostles, sent out in twos. They were to take with them no belongings, no money, no bread, instead handing their provision completely to the mercy of God’s hand. They were to accept the hospitality offered to them as they travelled from village to village, trusting upon God to provide people who’d share his grace.

This in itself offers us a lesson about how to treat folk who offer their kindnesses to us. It implores us to be true and respectful to them, not ditching them when something better comes up. If we’re offered a hospitality and we accept we should remain loyal to their accommodation of us, being thankful and not insulting them if a more attractive offer presents itself. Let your yes be yes and your no be no was something the apostles were implored to demonstrate and perhaps we should too. How often for example do we see a tradesman commit to providing a valuable service then drop us like a stone when a more lucrative one comes up?! Or a job offer is made by a small family business to an individual they place faith in only for that business to be snubbed when a bigger employer comes along promising the earth? Let our yes be yes and our no be no!

Finally in this study we were encouraged to shake the dust from our feet and move on if we’re rejected by folk. If people don’t respect or receive you, if they’re rude and dismissive, waving you away with disdain, don’t take it to heart.  People with hard hearts and harsh attitudes who’ve little truck with anybody but themselves aren’t to concern us. Their behaviour is their choice, don’t let their impatience and arrogance pierce your heart, nor their indifference. We can be responsible only for our own actions, not those of others.  The Christian message isn’t universally accepted, indeed it’s consummately drowned out by naysayers these days, but that’s not to deter people of faith from trusting in God, living their lives accordingly and leaving all of the consequences to him. We’re accountable not to people first and foremost but to the one who designed, created and breathed life into us. In the end, we have an audience of only one!  

Mark 6:7-13 NIV – Calling the Twelve to him, he began to – Bible Gateway