- The Leader 101 Course (12 months): Cultivating Habits of Highly Effective Spiritual Leaders
- This month (August 2015): Cultivating the Habit of Looking Expectantly for 10:2b Answers
- Last week: Who were the 10:2b answers in the first century? (And, why this matters to us!)
TWO KINDS OF “WORKERS”
In the immediate context of Luke 10, it becomes apparent that there are two kinds of people working in the Lord’s field. The first kind is the man (or woman) of peace. This person(s) live in a “house of peace” (shalom bayit). The second kind is the apostle (from apostello – “to send”). We say that an apostle is a man or woman called and gifted and sent by God to plant multiple churches.
KEY INSIGHTS FROM LK10:1
In Lk 10:1, we read that Jesus “sent them (the 84) two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” The word “sent” is from the Greek verb apostello. So, we can say that these men were apostles. 84 apostles were being sent out. There are several insights from this verse that help us know what to look for when we pray 10:2b.
1. JESUS SENT NAMELESS APOSTLES
While we know the names of the first 12 apostles (Mt. 10:2-4), we have no knowledge of the names of the next 72. In other words, they were “garden variety” apostles. Just average people who had been called by Jesus to find houses of peace and impart the “virus” of the Kingdom there. This is important because it demystifies the term “apostle”. In the past, we have associated this term with “larger than life” men like Peter or Paul who probably planted dozens of churches. Our natural reaction to the word “apostle” is “I could never do that!” But, the truth is that the great majority of apostles in the first century were nameless, average people. Perhaps they only planted three or four churches. Or, maybe only one!
This insight changes our expectations. This understanding makes it possible for many of us to say, “I could do that. Maybe I’m called to function as an apostle.” And, it means that, when we pray 10:2b, we are not necessarily looking for “super” Christians.
2. JESUS SENT A LARGE NUMBER OF APOSTLES
In this verse, we see Jesus sending out 84 apostles and then, in Lk 10:2, He surprisingly says, “We need lots more!” (“The laborers are few”) In other words, 84 = just a few. What picture do we imagine in Jesus mind of the total number of apostles that would be needed? How many would be enough?
In the past we have tended to think of apostles as very rare. But, this was not the case! Assuming these 84 men obeyed Jesus and prayed 10:2b and assuming the Lord of the harvest answered that prayer, it seems safe to say that by Acts 2 there were quite a large number of apostles at work. One hundred? Two hundred? We can’t determine the actual number but certainly it was large and growing.
This insight changes our expectations. It becomes reasonable to expect the Lord of the harvest to send dozens or hundreds of apostles to our city or state. (Ask big!) This also changes our eyesight. Whenever we meet a new person, we can begin to ask ourselves if this person might be an apostle. (Sometimes we say that, to plant a million new house churches in the US, we will need an “army” of apostles.)
3. JESUS SENT THESE APOSTLES TO “GOD’S PEOPLE”
Jesus sent the 84 to “every town and place where he was about to go”. And, all of these places where within first century Israel. All of the “houses of peace” that they were sent to were Jewish homes. These were not the pagan Gentiles who were far from God. These were people who already worshipped Yahweh and who studied Torah (our Old Testament).
This insight changes our expectations. I believe it means that it is valid and important to plant house churches with people who are “near” to God today. (As well as those who are “far” from God.) As we mentioned in the last Lesson, in the US, this would include both the “Dones” (65 million adults) and the “Almost Dones” (who are still attending a traditional church).
Dick Scoggins, a trainer with Frontiers, has written a helpful article called “Nurturing a New Generation of “Pauline” and “Petrine” Apostles”. He writes that, for many years, he only saw value in Pauline apostles. (Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, those who were very far from God. So, Pauline apostles today are called to start “local communities of the Kingdom where they do not exist”.)
More recently, Dick has seen the need for Petrine apostles. (Peter was called to be an apostle to the Jews.) He writes, “I think this (today’s world) will require a recovery of Petrine apostles – creative pioneers who will explore Kingdom communities appropriate to our postmodern world… These pioneers are not called to make further adaptations to faltering models, but rather, like Jesus, Peter, James and John, call God’s people to move on from old formulations in a journey to the new. Such a journey will be every bit as radical and terrifying as it must have been for those early Jewish believers who watched the destruction of their nation and traditions. Today’s Petrine apostles will bear the same primary mark of apostleship – persecution, for their ministry is bound to be misunderstood (at best) by existing churches.” To read all of Dick’s article go here: 11-12_Scoggins-1-1
CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF LOOKING EXPECTANTLY FOR APOSTLES!
So, look for apostles disguised as ordinary men and women. (Many of these people may not even realize that they have an apostolic calling!) Ask big and look for a large number of apostles in your region or people group. And, look for different kinds of apostles. Each one will have their own distinct calling. And, many of them will need help from you to be clear about this.
Pray 10:2b like the Widow Lady (Luke 18) alone and with your CO2 partner. Share with your Leader Team what you are learning and who you are seeing the Lord of the harvest do in response to your prayer.