Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
The passion to evangelize
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field”.
It is well known that Christians have been instructed by Jesus to spread the gospel to the world. The “Great Commission,” found in Matthew 28:18-20, is familiar to all and is a driving force behind the universal church’s mission to evangelize. However, it is just as important to note here what Jesus did not say. In fact, his instructions were rather sparse. Anyone who has organized a large event or been part of an organizing committee knows that one does not convey the details of what needs to get done in approximately only 200 words or less (half a page). Jesus sent seventy-two people to spread the message of the Kingdom of God and his instructions were only nine verses long.
Jesus allowed his disciples a significant amount of control over his message. Given the Jewish propensity toward a plethora of rules and regulations in religious matters, it would have been natural for him to add dozens of details regarding what was permissible and what was not. And yet – he did not do this. He gave them the freedom to take his message and to make it their own, trusting that they would not distort nor twist his intent. This points to one of the great truths of spreading any message – if one gives people the freedom to take a message and to make it their own, one allows for passion to develop and it seems that this is precisely what happened for in verse 17, we read that the seventy-two returned with joy. Jesus did not hamper his disciples with burdensome details that would cloud his original intent – he issued a few well-chosen words and then sent them out.
Not only did Jesus not issue any detailed regulation, he also told his disciples not to be a burden to those whom they visited. In fact, they were to eat and drink whatever was set before them. He issues no commandment for the disciples to wash themselves ceremonially before eating or to ensure that the pots and pans of the house had been washed according to Jewish custom. The rabbis of the day would have been aghast at such behavior but Christ was looking for people - not pots and pans. How often we forget! The lack of regulation that had for so long haunted (and still continues to haunt) the Jews was lifted. All nations can make Christ their own and on their own terms. Sometimes, it seems that this part of the message has gotten lost among Christians, particularly among institutionalized churches, including the Mar Thoma Church. Of course, this is a lofty ideal. Paraphrasing what Sadhu Sundar Singh once said, “The message of Christ would have spread far more widely in India if it had been served in an Indian vessel and not in a European one.”
Prayer: Lord help us to understand what is Gospel and strengthen us to spread it among all nations and communities, Amen
Thought for the Day: “The message of Christ would have spread far more widely in India if it had been served in an Indian vessel and not in a European one.”
Philip Varghese, St. John’s Mar Thoma Church – New York
Theme for the week: Passion to Evangelize