We have been sharing about Jesus commission and our mission on the earth to spread His Kingdom. We have been building our faith with thanksgiving that Jesus has “All authority in heaven and on earth”, and that He followed that with “Therefore……..” We can thank Him that He is now seated in the highest place and has the name that is above all names, and also that He now includes us, His disciples in this task of ‘making disciples of all nations’. That He promises to be with us, and to empower us by His indwelling Spirit. One further ingredient is needed however if we are to ‘Move in Faith’. After Jesus said ‘therefore’, He also said ‘go’. The fact is that we are never going to see His kingdom spread and His power manifest, if we don’t!
As a family we have been much amused over the years by reading The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass. I am recalling the time when, challenged by the thought that ‘faith can move a mountain’, he decides to practice privately on something small and discreet, only to find his wife and son convulsed with laughter outside the door, as they hear him ‘commanding’ a paper clip to move across the table. Well, we all know that moving any inanimate object, large or small, is impossible, and that big or small, it will take real faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed. But let’s not knock the thought here of being willing to step out and practice, of stepping out in faith and thereby learning to grow in faith.
Wherever we look, in whatever walk of life they are, people become good at what they do if they practice. I think that’s why Jesus sent out the twelve, Luke 9:1-6 and then the seventy two, Luke 10:1-11. We read that they came back rejoicing, but who knows that they didn’t make their mistakes or flunk a few opportunities. We only have one recorded failure as such, (Mark9:17,18) but there were other times when they would have sent people, or children away when it was Jesus plan to bless. Luke 9:12, Matthew 19:13,14. Jesus never gave up on them, but just corrected and taught them a better way.
So what does ‘go’ look like for us? Most of us have jobs, family and other responsibilities and we are not called to travel around as Paul was, but we are in contact daily with people who have not as yet come into the Kingdom. In Luke 10:8-10, we hear Jesus teaching the disciples how to approach the task. He says, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them ‘the Kingdom of God is near you.” I believe He is saying, in effect, go where you are welcomed into someone’s life. See what their needs are and release the appropriate blessing, then you can tell them about the God who can meet that need.
Being welcomed into someone’s life might not necessarily be about going into their home for a meal. It could be a momentary conversation, or a meeting at the supermarket. It may only last a few moments, but to the extent that someone has welcomed you into their world, you may also be able to find out what their concern is. Healing is not necessarily the top priority for people these days, they trust the N.H.S, but it may be loneliness, worry about their children or their finances; the job that they can’t get, or the job they have, but hate. Whatever it is, we can tell them that there is a God who can help them, and we can pray and release blessing as God’s representatives here on earth.
Sometimes I believe we are hesitant to engage with people in this way because we are afraid that ‘nothing will happen’ if I pray. We don’t want to disappoint, (or to look foolish ourselves.) The truth is that if we pray ‘in His name’ something is definitely going to happen. We don’t have to predict what God will do if we haven’t got that measure of the faith, i.e. ‘If I pray God will definitely heal you’. But we can offer to ask God to help them. I heard a while ago of someone who was sick, who was prayed for. He was not healed (at that time!) but said that he had never felt so loved.
So let us be thankful for every opportunity to ‘practice’, for every opportunity to learn and to grow in faith. Thanking the Lord for that opportunity will prevent us from ‘shrinking back’ in unbelief. The world is so full of need we really don’t need to practice on a paper clip. Let us instead be moved with compassion and bring the love of God into our family, our workplace and our neighbourhood. Most people these days will be glad, if you offer to pray for them, glad that someone cares, and if they aren’t pleased, you will have at least sown a seed in their heart that, just maybe, there is a God who loves them and who could help them. A seed that may germinate at a later date. So let us think and ask big prayers, worthy of our big God, and if nothing else comes to mind we can still pray as He taught us, ‘Lord in this situation, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, here and now on earth in line with your will in heaven’. Matthew 6:9,10.