“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you.Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for workers deserve their wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Luke 10:5-12 NIV
Peace has become an issue at hand for the 72; the workers are at risk. Circumstances are changing for Jesus and his followers. Already refused hospitality by the Samaritan village in chapter 9, the previously assumed cultural guidelines of hospitality to all outsiders who wander into a village is no longer assured.
Previously, we read in Luke 10 that these 72 were warned to think of themselves as lambs in the midst of a pack of wolves. This is not a peaceful situation. Who can relate to that? Riots in our cities, shots fired at citizens, aggressive attacks against authority leaving our police forces on heightened alert, anxious and yes – trigger happy. These things are happening in our towns and cities right now, in real time. We can relate to vulnerability.
And, we have a responsibility as Jesus followers. What does he tell his followers to do?
- Possess, transmit and return peace as a gift of God. His followers must be people capable of extending the peace that is God’s to others.
- The Jesus followers are given the mission of extending peace while Jesus acknowledges that they themselves are showing up in a “place of tension between dependence on and the abuse of hospitality.” This is not easy.
- Communities that are hospitable experience restoration to health. Jesus communities therefore need to value hospitality.
- For those who do not wish to express hospitality, God does NOT require his 72 helpers to behave codependently. Indeed, they will NOT experience restoration. Their unwillingness results in judgment. Wow. This serves as a balancing warning to all the good news associated with following Jesus.
So here’s the deal. Listening is super important. In Luke 10 we never hear about the mission itself; what we do hear is the instructions to the 72. It doesn’t matter just WHAT we do as Christians, it matters HOW we do it. This is why I believe we need to encourage one another on toward civility, hospitality, loving kindness. This is the HOW, and it always matters.