Mark 6:7a,8,10 – Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two. These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town." (NIV)
What kind of faith do you have? Is it personal, kept to yourself as private, or is it relational, shared with others? This is a very good question, for therein lies a great burden on my heart. As we keep our faith private, the Christian Church is growing smaller. How often do we invite others into our private world where Jesus dwells — or does He?
Years ago, when I was going from door to door to introduce people to a new church opening soon in their area, I went fearfully. Most people kept me talking at the door, few invited me in. I remember one house where the couple inside where obviously having a battle royal. The guy in the back room yelled, "Tell her to go away! She is not wanted here." Yes, most people are polite, but usually, church folk are not wanted there. What to do?
When I think back to the early years of Christianity, the biblical pictures we have depict a relational faith more than a lesson in faith. Jesus even sent them out to local villages to go from house to house. In a passage parallel to today's Scripture, Jesus warned them that it would not be easy:
Matthew 10:14,16 – If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (NIV)
I am more like a dove, though some may disagree. I don't like snakes, but being shrewd is always wise. So, I am to be shrewd and understand even those people I do not like. But the people out there may be snakes! So, do I turn away? Or do I love them with God's understanding love? This involves a totally unselfish love, which is a real test for me. How do I give to others? The disciples shared their faith in Jesus with others, even if it meant their death!
We need to relate our faith where there is a need, where someone is sick or lonely. The Christian faith is wonderful at meeting needs full on. Where there has been a death, we can take a casserole and let the widow or widower know we care. Where there is a stranger new in town, we can take an invitation to a church supper. We can let people know we want to be friends. Jesus cared, and so do we. But who knows?
It's time to get out there and mix, but also to mix in the ingredients of the Christian faith: God's love that fills our empty hearts, a faith that helps strengthen others as well as ourselves, a forgiveness that lets our souls sing, a joy that knows no bounds, a peace that surrounds us with the arms of Jesus. It is truly wonderful to help another find rest in the Lord.
Prayer: Forgive us, Lord, for keeping our love for You private. Lead us today to a needy place where Your love fills our hands so full that we do offer help to a person in need. If a food gift is needed, like a casserole or a helping hand, may we share it today with Your love, for in the sharing, we both open to so much more: the loving presence of Jesus today. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.