At The Table we desire to become people who live on mission in our daily lives and in our weekly rhythms together. Our strategy for this is to live one life, depending on God, discerning his work and grace, together as a community.
Since we believe God is already at work in the world, we don’t need to manufacture activity to be on mission for God. Instead, our task is to be on mission with God. So we need to learn to discern where God is at work and participate with him there.
On mission with a person of peace
In order to give us some language to “name the grace” we see, we use the language of Person of Peace, which is taken from the story of Jesus sending the 70 into mission in Luke 10:1-12:
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
“Person of peace” is taken from verses 5 and 6 to refers to someone who:
- Welcomes you (staying in their house)
- Provides for you (“eating and drinking whatever they provide”)
- Receives from you (“cure the sick, and say ‘the kingdom of God has come near.'”)
It’s one way we discern where God’s grace is actively working. Let’s take a closer look at this with a few remarks:
To find a person of peace, we have to be a person of peace. There are several indications in this text about the kind of person Jesus is sending into mission. These characteristics we want to name as being a Person of peace.
1. Surrendered Sentness
Those sent in mission are to go in surrendered sentness. We are “sent” (v. 1) into mission. Being a sent people is a part of our discipleship. Disciples are sent-ones. To be a disciple is to be a missionary.
And this sending into mission is what God does. This is why, even as they are sent, Jesus tells his disciples to “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.” At first glance this can be confusing: why ask God for laborers if you are one of the laborers? 🙂
The point here is that mission is something we surrender to. It’s not something we control or make happen. Mission isn’t a project or strategy (like re-doing our bathroom or building a deck); it’s not something we accomplish and achieve with the normal tools of our world.
We don’t technique and efficiency other people into the Kingdom of God. Rather, we go in dependence and reliance on God, connected to him, surrendered to him so that we can discern the evidence of where he is already at work.
2. Mutual Submission
The text continues that we are to go out as “lambs among wolves…carrying no purse” (v.3-4). The second thing we see about being a person of peace is to go in submission to the one you want to reach.
This is a radical departure from most of the evangelism projects and trainings we’ve experienced in our Christian life. I was trained to go “as the one who has something others need.” But Jesus says go “as THE ONE who needs!”
This is revolutionary. It undoes any “going with power” on our side; we learn how to operate in weakness, dependence, and need. We go in submission to the ones we want to reach.
This is a pattern we see in the New Testament: those who go to proclaim the gospel do so in submission to those they want to reach (see 1 Cor 2.1-5; Phil 2.1-11; Acts 16.11-15). This submission to others is so we can receive from them (vv. 7-8) and they can receive from us (v.9).
It is a posture we take as a way to invite a relationship of mutual submission. And it is in this relationship of mutual submission that we are to proclaim, “The kingdom of God has come near you” (v.9).
3. Responsive to Grace
Because we are accustomed to noticing God’s grace in our lives and participating in it (it’s worth noting that we do need to be trained to do this!), we can do that for others as well. We help them notice the grace of God in their life and help them say “yes” to him right there (vv. 5-6, 9)!
We seek to be sensitive to God’s grace in our lives, listening and responding to him personally, so that we develop the character and competency to help others do the same. And, the grace isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula; it is a contextual, particular need that our Person of Peace may have.
4. Listen and See as Jesus Would
Steven Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”
If we’re honest, most of us listen to others while we’re thinking about what we’ll say next. But the greatest way to LOVE others is to LISTEN. Listening is an act of love, all by itself.
So, when we find a person of peace and they welcome us, we receive not just food and shelter, but their story.
It is an incredibly vulnerable thing to share your story. We honor others by listening and being compassionately curious with them. Our presence needs to communicate: I see you, I hear you, I’m with you, I’m here for you – it’s safe here. This is the posture that God has with us.
Questions for Reflection
A Person of Peace is one who welcomes, receives, listens, and serves us. But, in order to see Persons of Peace and announce the Kingdom of God to them we must welcome, listen to, and serve our Persons of Peace! Mission is a mutual experience of welcoming the in-breaking Kingdom of God.
We will discuss and train more about this idea of Persons of Peace, but let’s pause right here to reflect.
- Which of the 3 elements of a Person of Peace is most challenging for you? Which is most encouraging? Why?
- How does this understanding of mission/evangelism differ from how you’ve experienced it in the past?
- What’s one area of your life that is challenged by the call to BE a Person of Peace?
- Who are the Persons of Peace in your life?