Pastor Woita delivered the sermon on July 3 rd and his sermon text was the gospel lesson for the day—Luke 10:1-20.
In this text Jesus commissions and sends out seventy-two of His disciples on a mission. Pastor Woita prefers to call it a “mission adventure” rather than a “mission assignment.” He believes if we see it as an “adventure,” it is much more appealing than if we see it as getting an “assignment.”
As I listened to Pastor Woita I found the word adventure inviting and began to ask myself, “How often do I look at my faith journey and my calling as a Christian as an adventure?” Upon reflection I realized that some days and some aspects of my faith journey and my calling I do see as an adventure and that there are other days and other aspects of my calling I do not see as an adventure, but more as an assignment. I then began to wonder whether or not it was wrong not to see my whole faith journey and calling as an adventure. Am I supposed to, ought I, see my whole faith journey and calling as an adventure? This question drove me back to the gospel lesson, our text for the day.
The first verse of our text, Luke 10:1, reads “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.”
“After this….” After what? This led me back to the end of Luke 9. In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus talks about the cost of being a disciple and of following Him. He indicates it won’t always be easy. Luke 9:51-56 talks about the opposition that Jesus and His disciples encountered from the Samaritans as they “resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” In Matthew 10:22 Jesus tells us that “All people will hate you because of Me.” This may be an adventure, but if it is, I don’t think it is an adventure Jesus necessarily expects us to always relish.
Did Jesus view His ministry as an “adventure” as He sweated blood while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) or as He screamed from the cross “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Mark 15:34)?
Days and aspects of our faith journey and our calling can be and are a wonderful adventure, and it can be helpful to look for the adventure in our faith journey and callings, but we are called and we are sent even when the adventure seems to be absent, even when the journey and our calling are difficult.
I greatly appreciated what Pastor Woita had to say about the heart of our assignment. He said that we are to be lovers and He challenged us to get out of our “Christian ghettos” (meaning our church buildings and our church gatherings), and to get into the world. When I taught at Concordia University we used to call it the “Concordia bubble” or our “Christian bubble.” Doug Pollock a well-known Christian author likes to refer to it as “church space” verses “life space.”
It is true that as Christians we are not to be “of the world.” But it is also true that as Christians we are to love the people of the world. We cannot love the people of the world without being in the world with them. Jesus did not merely love us from a distance. He became incarnate. He dwelt among us (John 1:14). In John 17:15-18 Jesus prays: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”
We do not love the people of the world best by staying inside the wall of our church or by staying inside our Christian social circles. We love people of the world best by being incarnate in their midst, rubbing elbows with them, talking with them, by becoming a part of their lives. St Paul instructs us in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” In Galatians 6:9-10 he writes: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people….” And in Colossians 4:5 he further writes: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
Pastor Woita also indicated that Jesus had a strategy as He sent His disciples, as He sends us out on our missions. I heard Pastor Woita outline a seven point strategy:
- He prayed.
- He sent them out two by two.
- He prepared them forewarning them as to what they would encounter.
- He instructed them to travel light.
- He had them bloom where they were planted. Greg Finke would call these places our “missional neighborhoods.”
- He instructed them to preach the kingdom and be bearers of the Kingdom, namely His love.
- I would add a seventh point. He debriefed them upon their return and used the debriefing as an opportunity to further instruct them.
When Jesus called His first disciples, He told them that He would make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Be it as an adventure or as an assignment I believe that is His intent for each of us as well.
- Begin with prayer, listening for God’s direction and guidance.
- Find a fishing buddy to journey with you.
- Go forth with your eyes open, knowing it will not be easy.
- Keep to the basics and leave the kitchen sink at home.
- Identify your fishing hole, your missional neighborhood.
- Make it about His love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3,13; 1 Corinthians 16:14).
- Use your experience as an opportunity to learn and to grow.
Now let’s go fishing!