“Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.”
~Matthew 10:11-13 (NRSV).
How intrinsically welcoming are we?
I know we can find lots of examples of division and reprisal in the Bible—even at times in the words of Jesus—but I find it so disheartening when people choose to disenfranchise others, ‘in the name of Jesus’ if you don’t mind.
I’m digressing. But there is a connection.
The message of the cross is one of grace. By faith we come to know this grace.
The Divine Love Affair
As I look at the Scriptures I see a love affair—God reaching out to his lost world. I see this love formed in many ways. There’s the reaching love; there’s also the tough love of rebuke, provoking a heart of repentance—the absolute centre of God’s saving message. And there are a million and more love forms between. God created it. He owns it!
Love Turned Sour?
In the hardness of some literal messages of tough love we can easily start to either doubt God’s inherent love for us, or we can so advocate this hardness, it becomes us—it consumes us and we become bitter Christians to others. The message of truth is thus ‘de-graced.’ Worse, we truly become a blight on the name of Jesus.
Yet, we must be continually reminded that this God of ours is not a condemning God—he never is; not unless we forever reject him. His nature is love. God is love.
So why do some believers take it upon themselves to ‘love’ in a condemning way?
The only thing I can think of in this regard is Satan’s twisted the minds of some so they polarise parts of the message, or they take a separatist approach—which can never really be of God.
If God is love, surely he’s inclusive. And I’d hazard a guess he’s so much more inclusive than even we can comprehend. God’s in love with us—his creation. He died for us!
The Intent of Matthew 10:5-16
As Jesus sends out the twelve we can just imagine the tension of the moment. He instructs them carefully; they listen intently. These instructions may save their lives; they will certainly protect them and their ministry. Some they’d meet on this road ahead would be pleased to waste the disciples’ time and confuse the grace that seeks to win hearts for God.
It’s no different for us.
There are many who we’ll meet and talk with and spend time with who’ll have some unreconciled bugbear that insists continual airing. These are tormented; distortion has become them. A pretty irony is this: these who say many others are teaching falsely—and who intently point this out—are themselves deluded. Their lack of charitable love is a sure sign.
Should our peace rest on these situations when Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘shake off the dust from their feet as they left that house or town?’
We cannot solve indifference.
But we can studiously avoid it, never feeling the slightest bit guilty. We must instead be, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NRSV)
Our challenge in the midst of indifference is to love anyway. We rise above and beyond indifference.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.