The story of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples, found in Matthew 10, is a rich story full of many implications for today's disciples of Jesus. Let's take some time to "expose the story."
Matthew 10:1-17 NIV84 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
(2) These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; (3) Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; (4) Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
(5) These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. (6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
(7) As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'
(8) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
(9) Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; (10) take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
(11) "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.
(12) As you enter the home, give it your greeting. (13) If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.
(14) If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.
(15) I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(16) I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(17) "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.
The story of God always has the depths of God waiting to be explored and exposed. Once exposed to our thinking, the implications of the story become calls to action that hold us accountable and draw us into service. May the exposed story of Jesus today draw you into calling and purpose.
To be Christian involves the whole person: Spirit, Soul and Body.
One cannot be divorced from the other two. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" is not for the Spirit alone, but for the soul (mind, thinking, patterns of thought, emotions, will) and the body (flesh, bone and the urges of the flesh). All must be brought into holy order, or sanctified.
When did Christianity become merely an educational exercise in spiritual matters?
Yes, the new birth begins in the spirit, but immediately overflows into the soul and the body. The awakening of the spirit causes and awakening of the mind, which flows into the actions of the flesh, for the flesh acts out on the contents of the spirit and soul. The spirit may be the leader, but the soul and body always follow the leader.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)
Upon the completion of creating mankind, God said that it was "very good." Would God not want the whole man redeemed and restored? Would God only save the spirit to send the soul and flesh into hell? There is no evidence in the scriptures that God disregards the flesh that He called "very good" nor is there evidence that he disregards you will, thoughts, emotions, and patterns of thought.
We must resolve to join the scriptures in presenting ourselves as living sacrifices.
IN REGARDS TO THE SPIRIT.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6 NKJV)
IN REGARDS TO THE MIND.
For "WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD THAT HE MAY INSTRUCT HIM?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV)
IN REGARDS TO THE FLESH.
For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. (James 3:2-3 NKJV)
Let us be whole, earnest followers of Jesus, eager and desirous to serve Him with our entire being, Spirit, soul and body! AMEN and AMEN.
The ways of God are higher and the thoughts of God are higher. The ways and thoughts of God are holy and pure, therefore we would do well to desire His ways and thoughts over our own. Our own may deive us, but His will never lead us astray.
Have you ever been in a situation and thought "things just shouldn't be this way?" Whatever relationship has something missing or something awry, you just know deep in your soul that things should be different. The way things should be is the way God would have them. Jesus is our best example of the human embodiment of the ways and thoughts of God. He is the supreme example. He has the best advice.
I believe that far too many Christians today hear the words of Jesus with "old ears." It's like hearing your mother say for the umpteenth time... "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times to clean your room." We choose to hear with a selective filter and the impact of mom's words roll off our consciousness like water off a duck's back. Are the words of Jesus the water to your own duck's back? Or, are they full of fresh life and still able to divide and penetrate your soul to operate out of tenderness?
When things in the church aren't the way they should be we do more harm than we can imagine. It's like going to your kitchen faucet for clean water only to find the water putrid and discolored, polluted and undrinkable. This is why the apostle Paul tells us that we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature.
"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (Romans 8:12-14 NIV84)
Like a collar around your neck and with a chain attached, you are led by the sinful nature or the spirit nature. It's hard to walk in a path of unity when you try to walk with someone who is choosing to be led by the sinful nature. It's hard to enjoy true fellowship when two people are joined to opposing spiritual forces. It's hard to be unequally yoked with people who say they believe with their mouth, but store up the enemy's ways and thoughts in the heart and mind. It shouldn't be that way.
Today, and always, let us seek to walk in the ways of the Savior, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the Wonderufl Counselor, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Let us live the reality of the fruit of the Spirit and seek the higher ways and thoughts of God.
That's the way things should be.
That's the best way.
That's the holy way.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.