The Way of Making a Difference
A topic or theme you hear people talk about today is wanting to do something that is meaningful to others-make a difference in the lives of others. They want to work for a good cause. They want to give time to helping others. It’s even become a regular event to hear people quit good paying jobs in order to take a job that is more existentially rewarding. Mya Moore is arguably one of the most decorated college and professional athletes of all time and yet she would lay it all down to put action to the words of social justice and help a man falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. I have heard many people contemplate moving to the other side of the world to help world hunger, poverty. Completely unsatisfied with where they are at.
I think those are all fantastic causes. And I think their desire to make a difference reflects a desire that God puts in us. Giving ourselves to make more money, make a company more efficient is good, but it also comes up short. God created us to impact the world. But people often miss that the greatest impact we can have on another is helping them grow in their relationship with God.
When we don’t do that there is a void, an emptiness that rests in our lives. A longing to be with others and connect more deeply. But how do we do this?
We are going to look at a passage of Scripture that helps us see how to make a difference. It is helpful personally. I also want to say this is a passage, that if I could pick one passage that has challenged me personally and that I believe God has opened my eyes to how the church should engage in missions, it is this passage. As we are in this series, “the way” in which we talk about the pattern or way of life that should define followers of Jesus, one part is the way of ministry
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:1-12 ESV)
This passage should shape the way we make a difference in the world and what we can expect and what we should look for when we go.
This passage is about Jesus sending his disciples out to minister to others. He sends them out to go ahead to the towns that he will visit so that they can prepare the way for him. Jesus will send his disciples out again and again. The great commission given to his disciples is to go and make disciples of all nations.
He didn’t say just wait for people to come to me. He said go and get them.
[After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.
He sends them with an urgency. Get busy. Don’t even stop and talk to others on the road, but go to the place I am about to visit.
People will ask do we do this today?? We are not apostles, so why should we attempt this? Because reaching others is something every Christian is called to do and can do. In the book of Acts one of the main ways Christians are referred to is as witnesses. We are to share who Jesus is with others. We go. It doesn’t really matter where you go. Just go. If there are people there is an opportunity.
- Go in Dependence
Jesus sends his disciples out with an urgency. Don’t take anything with you. Just get busy doing what you need to do.
4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.
Later Jesus will tell his disciples to take preparations with them. It was not needed for this particular mission. It will be for others. We see in Acts in the early church there both were times of planning and times when planning is not possible (Acts 8 for spontaneous, Acts 13 for planned). His people are to go and trust him in the process. So we see both of these Luke 10 and Luke 22 play out in the church.
(To be clear, there are times that the apostles went out and took extensive efforts to not depend on others. Paul worked with his own hands making tents. But that is not always the case.)
I don’t like depending on others. I don’t like not being able to take care of myself. He sends them out depending on finding food, shelter, and acceptance. It’s ok to ask others for something. It brings people together. Our modern self sufficiency and independence keeps us from relationship with others. Borrowing something may be a way to connect with others.
Here the disciples go out and take nothing with them. They are vulnerable and needy. They need a place to stay. They need food. Find a person of peace and stay there. Eat whatever is set before you. That would be big for Jews to know that they have permission to eat, and this probably includes foods that are not kosher. It also is freedom.
3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
Also, think about where the disciples are in their development. They don’t have a full understanding of Jesus, his purpose, his atoning death, but they know enough to be going. Knowing Jesus is Lord is enough. We will never know everything.
- Go in Dependence to
Share about the Kingdom of God
[v9 say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
They are to announce the kingdom of God is near. It has come near because Jesus’ disciples have come near. It does not arrive through force, but by people understanding and believing.
The kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God. God promised to bring a perfect righteous kingdom on the earth. One that will dazzle with his splendor and holiness and glory. He will reign with all his wisdom, power and glory, and people will do what he says. Imagine how great our world and nation would be if everyone did what was right, what God commanded. No more pain and suffering. No more demons, sickness. Imagine a world where there is no more suffering, he removes it. A kingdom of peace and blessing. This is what he is bringing to the world. We want to help people experience justice and blessing now, but even more so for eternity!
But his people turned from him and separated themselves from him and his kingdom. They wanted to build their own kingdom and not his. They got it. They were removed from his kingdom and their kingdom was found to be pitiful. But now Jesus comes to say the kingdom of God is at hand. The way it is coming now is that it is coming into hearts. People enter into it now by faith. It will come in its fullness later on. If you want to be a part of the nation of the United States, you have to go through a process of naturalization. You fill out paper work, pay a fee, get fingerprinted, and then you take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Once you do that you can be a citizen that belongs to the United States. If you want to be part of God’s kingdom it is by trusting in and devoting yourself to serve Jesus. It’s by trusting in Jesus and following him as Lord. To give yourself to seeing his kingdom come in all its fullness in your heart, and in the heart of others.
The greatest way to make a difference in the life of another is to help them see how they can be a part of God’s kingdom. Helping them see how Jesus is the Savior of the world. How we find our purpose, meaning, direction, and hope in him. How we have a relationship with him and see him working in us and changing us to be more like him.
Talking about our relationship with God, the reign and rule of God in our hearts, is the most significant relationship we have. We want to share what he has done and is doing. The weather is great outside, reminds me of God’s goodness. When it is nasty outside it reminds me God has purposes I don’t always see. God allows you and your wife to get through an argument and forgive each other. Praise God – celebrate that. Live out loud.
Compassion: It is a deep profound sense of sympathy because of the condition people live in. We genuinely want them to know God.
- Go in Dependence to Share about the Kingdom of God
with a Person of Peace
[5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.
The disciples are told to find a person of peace. They are to pronounce a blessing on the house. That person turns and says shut up and get out of here. You move on. But if a person receives it and they show an openness to what you are doing, then you stay with them.
Jesus is clear not everyone will receive him and his kingdom. People are going to reject them. Some will be hostile. Some will be disinterested. Some will be too busy with work, taking the kids to their game, got to cut the grass, they have done it and had enough (I’m good. No thanks. I’m satisfied with my experience of God).
When this happens you move on. You don’t need to belabor the point. You bless them, share a message of hope, but they have no interest, then move on. Dust off your shoes and move to someone who is interested. Don’t stop, though.
Son of Peace. Peace rests on: (1) continue, remain with (Luke 10.6); (2) as finding comfort through confident dependence on something rely on, trust in
He is interested. Wants to know more. Is eager.
Let me encourage you. It doesn’t matter where you are at. If you are at a place where you genuinely want to know more about God. That’s a great place. You may be at rock bottom in your life. You may be at the top of the world and yet feel something is missing. We want to be a church that is helping you. Keep asking questions. I would love to talk with you. Others are here who would love to talk with you. We will do a Bible study. If you need a smoke break in the middle of Bible study I’m ok with that. Sometimes it is more the direction than our location.
I took my car to a car shop. When I got there a wreck happened right outside. The owner of the shop came out and looked, and said, well praise God no one was hurt. It intrigued me. I wanted to know more about what he thought about that. Pronounce a blessing.
When the disciples find this person they don’t jump around. They stay with him. It is a rare thing. He has an interest in the Lord. We see this in Acts. Cornelius is a man who doesn’t know Jesus but has a vision to call Peter to hear what he says. He trusts in Jesus. He then leads his whole household to know Jesus. This is what it is like when you reach one person with the good news and help them to see how they can make a difference in the lives of others.
This has been a great epiphany for me. There are so few people interested in learning about the Lord. I believe we need to pray for a move of God’s spirit today. A move of him quickening people to want to know him and his word.
-have to move from a person of peace to one who is following Christ!
First is to ask: Do we demonstrate that attitude of wanting to know God’s ways. We need to yearn and long to have more of God in our lives. Maybe you have come to know Jesus, do you still have that person of peace attitude of wanting and longing to know more. Maybe you are not strong on helping others. Are you still trying to learn or have you grown cold?
We need to pray for and welcome that person of peace. Someone who wants to know God or learn about him. It may start out as someone who simply tolerates us. Maybe they take an interest in what we are talking about. We are not going around commanding people to turn or burn and then keep moving on with life. We are to know people. Spend time with them. Spend our life with them.
I believe we need to pray for this. Pray for it like you pray for a new kitchen, like you pray for a new car, for your 401k, for the pretty girl, new husband!
Individually. Church going out. This is church culture. What do you eat on Thanksgiving? What do you do on February 14? We want to create a church culture that is doing these things.
Church Needs to be Going Out. Jesus sends his disciples out to those who don’t know him. Would have been nice to just hang out at the feet of Jesus all day. But you need to go out. We should want to go out, but we also need to see the vital importance of it.
Dire consequence if people do not obey. Better for Sodom and Gomorroah. We need to follow him. We need to follow him in sharing.
[12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Church growth strategy.
Field of dreams: “If you build it they will come.” This has been the great strategy of many churches. Build it and they will come. Guess what? It doesn’t work in a post-Christian society. More people vying for the same group of mature Christians.
I don’t want to build a church based on people leaving one church to come here. We are not going to be that much different than where they are. Most people changing churches are more disillusioned with Jesus than they are truly in need of a change of church.
There is a promise in this passage. The harvest is plentiful. There is plenty of opportunity. But few people are willing to go. Few people willing to talk with them. Few people willing to leave the comfort of their own homes. Few people willing to be in a dependent position on the Lord or other people. Few people willing to be with a person who may not be eating and drinking kosher food.
It is messy going out. But you get to see the power of God work there: Pray for sickness. Pray for demons.
Challenge to church. Are we going out telling others the good news? Praying for the Lord to have compassion on people. Too few people have a burden that others knows Jesus.
We can’t be sitting and waiting for people to come in. We have to go out.
Talk to people. If you care about others and are not a jerk, you can talk about deep things, you can share how God is working in your life.
- Where are you in your spiritual journey?
- If God were to do a miracle in your life what would it be?
- What do you think about ….? Can I tell you what I believe…?
- What is God doing in your life? What does this teach you about who he is?
- What are you learning about who God is?
- Would you want to take some time to read the Bible together and talk about it?
If you know Jesus, you have the most incredible news ever to share with people. You have an opportunity to live a significant and meaningful life. But will we do it? Will we be those who go in dependence to share about his kingdom with persons of peace.
You might move to the other side of the world. Or you might stay right where you are.