Photo credit: https://www.pktfuel.com/holy-night-part-2-law-of-love/
Scriptures: Luke 10:1-11
Speaker: Pastor Dr. Jason Ho
Who are the Laborers?
When talking about scriptures on missionary and sending out, not many would refer to this one. Indeed, this story is only recorded in the Book of Luke. Interestingly, unlike the other sending out stories, in v1, we know that Jesus sent out 72 other disciples (footnote 1), not the twelve well-known disciples. Some scholars think that the 72 might represent Noah’s offsprings, who developed into 72 countries (footnote 2); a number encompassing the entirety of the world. This debunks the myth that only the selected few (such as the twelve) are called to harvest, but everyone, the whole earth should participate in this big harvesting.
A Gospel of Peace, Healing & Relationship
It might be surprising but v5 tells us that the gospel comprise of one simple message: “peace to this house”. Jesus did not send the disciples out with the message “repent”, “believe in Jesus”, “only Jesus saves” or “eternal life through Jesus”, or the theological discussion of a trinitarian god, which shook the church for hundreds of years. His message was peace sharing with whomever they met.
After this message, Jesus instructed them to eat whatever that was set before them, to cure the sick among them and in doing so, proclaim to them that the kingdom of God has come near to them (v8-9). His message was not to teach them the Jewish or Christian way of eating, lifestyle, or cleanliness, but a simple one of life sharing and relationship building —— their customs, their concerns —— through which not only can healing be made possible, the kingdom of God also comes near.
From the above two, we notice that Jesus’s gospel concerns not theological debates, or right or wrong, or even sin or holy. The crux of Jesus’ gospel is peace, healing and relationship building. So what gospel does our lives testify? We must each reflect on our christian faith and how this influence on how we relate to those around us. At BMCC, our gospel consists of three key elements:
- God’s power to create: we believe that all things are created through God, and because of that, we care not only about us, but all created things: refugees, females, global warming, and so on. Our gospel is not just a personal gospel which brings peace to ourselves, but also one that brings peace to the world.
- Jesus’s power to liberate: we believe that Jesus has liberated us from all bondages. Hence, we should likewise participate in activities which liberate people from bondages, injustice and oppression.
- Holy Spirit’s power to build: we believe that building up is one of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit brings peace. Hence, when the Holy Spirit arrives, the disciples have the power to step outside and start sharing this gospel of peace.
Participating in the Gospel of Peace
The theme of this month in Chinese is 忠心與委身, which can be translated as “integrity” and “commitment” in English. The speaker recalled the days when he was still in the closet, and reflected on the possibilities of bringing the gospel of peace: not only to others who might be in similar situation as he was, but also to heterosexuals who were as stuck as he was regarding several scriptural interpretations. At BMCC, the Society of True Light aims to debunk the lies and myths of conversion therapy, while the writing ministry aims to reach people through the internet. Indeed, v18-20 of the passage tells us that our names are recorded because it is an identity already given us, and we have power over snakes and scorpions. Caution must be make not to take a literal meaning of this verse and start playing with snakes and scorpions. Instead, we understand this in terms of its historical and social context: snakes and scorpions represent things that threaten life. In this light, we must identify things that threatens life such as conversion therapy, discrimination, and all other messages, lies and myths that destroy life. We must not forget that we —— everyone is —— are sent out with this gospel of peace. We all have the authority and responsibility to tread on these messages.
Let us all reflect on our own gospels, and tune it to beat with Jesus’s gospel of peace, healing and relationship building.
Footnote 1: the Chinese Union Version 和合本is published in 1911, and does not reflect later scholarly discoveries. Other ancient manuscripts have 72 instead of 70, as reflected in the Today’s Chinese Version現代中文譯本. Other scholars think that the number 72 is more plausible for it involves the “whole” numbers of 7 and 12: if we take the 12 sent out in the other Gospels, plus the 72 sent out in Book of Luke, we have 84 which if divided by 7 equals to 12.
Footnote 2: see Genesis 10.