Hi, Church! Somehow, I’m already two weeks in. Missing you all more than I could have imagined, but feeling overwhelmed with thankfulness to be here and to be supported by y’all. There are so many things I want to share, but for now, the following is what’s on my heart.
In Matthew 10:34, Jesus reminds us of the severity of the gospel.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
These are strong words. For those of us who come from a Western context in which our society is increasingly tolerant, it’s difficult for us to comprehend Jesus’ words. However, I saw this Scripture come alive last night in a way that brought new understanding. I hope that what I share will help shed some light on this Scripture for you, as well.
Yesterday evening, Lacey and I went out to share the gospel in a local neighborhood. We followed an example from Scripture, as seen in Luke 10. Luke 10:1-11 describes Jesus sending out 72 disciples 2 by 2 to enter into new places where the gospel has yet to go. This example is something we teach in our trainings. I’ll share about that more in depth later, but for now, just know that the aim is to find a house of peace, be invited into their home, and share the gospel. Again, this might sound a little farfetched from our American perspective, considering how little we practice hospitality these days. But for this culture, it’s completely normal to invite a stranger into your home, give them chai, talk about your faith, and often times, even feed them! In fact, they have a phrase that they take almost literally here: Guest is god.
As Lacey and I walked through this particular neighborhood, we had many encounters with people and certainly many stares! We walked by two younger girls standing outside a home and quickly learned that they spoke English. The home belonged to one of the girls, who invited us to come in. After introducing us to her mom, Lacey and I shared that we were followers of Jesus and that when we enter into a new home, we like to pray a blessing over the house. We asked if we could pray, and the young girl said yes, ushering us to sit down. The mother, however, immediately began ushering us out the door. Her demeanor shifted as soon as she heard the name of Jesus, and it was clear she wanted nothing to do with us. We got out as soon possible, but ran into the her friend waiting outside. As we talked with her, we overheard the mother and daughter arguing – shouting back and forth. My heart broke as we walked away from this young girl.
Jesus’ words continue in Matthew 10… “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Who ever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Part of the difficulty of reaching this nation is the tight-knit family dynamic. It’s the same thing that the disciples experienced in the context of Jesus’ day. You cannot separate religion into it’s own separate box. It’s intricately woven into every aspect of life, especially and most importantly the family life.
While this girl didn’t get the opportunity to hear the gospel, another family was able to hear about our need for a Savior, but didn’t get to hear the rest of the story. Halfway through, the grandmother stopped us and told the boys to leave the house – she was done with our conversation and that meant the conversation was over for everyone else, too.
So what do you do when you are able to share and the “aroma of Christ to God” is a fragrance of death to one family member but a fragrance of life to another? For many, it means the type of division that Jesus talks about – that one’s enemies will be those of his or her own household. It means, as one brother here shared from his story, that one’s own father might even be willing to beat one’s own son almost to the point of death for the sake of family honor.
Most of us don’t face such a high cost in regards to our family relationships, and praise God for that! Praise God that most of us are able to maintain relationships with lost family members and that many of us have earthly families that are included in the family of God. But please, do not let this or our comfortable, American lives cause us to forget the severity and the high call of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It costs some their lives, their families, their reputation, their health, their home, their children. May we not take this lightly, but may also we remember that Jesus is worthy of it all and may we not shy away from sharing the life-giving, hope-filled message of the gospel.
Please continue to pray, as Lacey and I will be going out multiple times a week to continue sharing in the community! Your prayers are felt and deeply appreciated.