“…and if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him…”
– Luke 10:6
Jesus sends his disciples out in complete dependence on his grace. They are told not to do any door knocking whatsoever (v.7). They are told not to worry about their evangelism budget (v.4). And they are even told that they should ‘shake’ and ‘leave’ when not received (v.10-11). Best of all they are told the feasting will be provided free of charge, and that they deserve it (v.7).
Most people I talk to about evangelism have bought into the depressing and guilt-driven idea that we need to regularly find someone to harass about our christian faith, and act like we’re enjoying the awkward conversation and see if they’ll come to church.
Here are 3 things we can learn from Jesus instructions on sharing the gospel that are different to what we learned –
Jesus sends them to look for the person of peace.
#1 IT’S A GRACE-DIRECTED STRATEGY –
Jesus is saying that there are already people upon whom he has already begun showering his affection in very real ways. This is what theologians call ‘prevenient’ grace. It’s the biblical idea that God works out our salvation before we even knew we wanted to be saved. It’s all through the Bible.
Jesus explains that our gospel-witness is a grace-directed strategy. We aren’t finding someone we can persuade! We are simply watching for a household we come into contact with where we can say “Peace be to this house!” (v.5). In modern vernacular that might sound like when you or I say, ‘can I tell you about the kindness of God’.
We see numerous examples of the early disciples in the Bible being directed by this gracious leading of God. Peter is led to Cornelius who already has had an angel ministering to him and is set up to hear Peter share the peace and grace of God (Acts 10(). Paul is led to Lydia by a river who is already calling out to God in prayer and is set up to share the gospel with her. She then is thrilled to hear of God’s love and simply won’t let them leave without sharing her food and generous hospitality with them (Acts 16). Philip is led down a road to an Ethiopian who is already hungry for God, busy searching the Scriptures and just needs someone to explain to him the gracious offer of God’s peace to mankind. He is then immediately baptised (Acts 8).
#2 THE MAN OF PEACE WELCOMES YOU –
The person of peace welcomes you. They are even someone who serves you! Often we want to do everything for everybody else, but God has set up a road ahead of ‘eating and drinking’ for his labourers and has said that the ‘labourer deserves his wages’.
People of peace are open to you, and they are open to the life you live. Jesus has not stated here that they will necessarily immediately become a fully-fledged theologian overnight, nor is he saying anything about an invitation to a church meeting. Rather Jesus is giving us a picture of an enjoyable meal to be had over peaceful conversation. It gives us the picture of the host being very open to your kingdom-lifestyle, your convictions and the peace of God that is evident in your life.
The peace that Jesus describes is not just a topic of your conversation, it is also a tangible power that rests upon your new friend – “your peace will rest upon him” (v.6). The transaction leads to an act of friendship and communion over a meal (v.7). Jesus also sets the expectation that he provides gifts of healing (v.9) for you to perform the miraculous manifestation of his kingdom. And at the same time we are to explain how God’s kingdom has come near to their house (v.9).
#3. THEY ARE OFTEN A PERSON OF INFLUENCE –
It would appear that the persons of peace in Scripture are sometimes a person of influence. Lydia was a woman of note in business. Cornelius was a centurion, an upright man we are told, and who was well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation.
Jesus provides us with a ‘cultural key’ to our community. Jesus wants the gospel to spread. Jesus is the ultimate evangelist.
Persons of peace are found in the normal course of life. Who is your people of peace? Write down the names of your people of peace in your prayer journal and pray for them.
If you don’t have one, then we need to get out more. You should party more! Maybe you should eat and drink more! I’m sure there’s a gym or salsa club near by!