The Kingdom Come Near


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Ezekiel 7:10-15, 23b-27, Hebrews 6:13-20, Luke 10:1-17

Jesus dispatched seventy disciples to travel in pairs to spread his word. Because he instructed them to take nothing with them, they were essentially at the mercy of each town they visited, “like lambs in the midst of wolves.” In towns that welcomed them, they were to stay and cure the sick. If a town rejected them, they were to shake the dust from their sandals in protest. But when they left a town, they were to say the same thing: “The kingdom of God has come near.”

Whether people receive the Gospel is beyond our control. Our message of love does not waver. As we witness through evangelism, service, or some other means, we are not ultimately responsible for someone’s belief or disbelief. Certainly the seventy evangelists must have felt some frustration, but there was so much work to do among those willing to hear that they didn’t have time for fruitless labor. Sometimes we may be disappointed that someone chooses to reject Christ, but we should not let that rejection sully our spirits; we can shake it off like dust from a sandal.

We might be wise to carry that attitude into other aspects of life as well. Within our work environments, faith communities, and families we will always find dogged malcontents and chronic complainers. Because we want to be peacemakers, or maybe just to be nice, we risk devoting a disproportionate amount of energy trying to satisfy people who have no wish to be satisfied. Neither curing nor shaking, we waste time at the expense of people eager to bear good fruit. Frequently these people, who are not complainers, simply leave for greener pastures and we are left with the bitter.

Of course we want to settle differences, foster reconciliation, and refrain from rejecting anyone, but sometimes we need to accept that have been explicitly or passively rejected. There is so much good to do, some of it very hard work, that we want to steward our resources wisely. Christ loves everyone, as should we, but we are most effective where people let the kingdom come near.

Comfort: The better choice is sometimes the easier choice.

Challenge: Do an assessment of whether you are spending your energy effectively.

Prayer: Loving God, send me where I will be useful to you. Amen.

Discussion: How do you decide when to withdraw from conflict?

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