From today’s Moravian Texts…
The more I learn about Jesus’ strategy for evangelism and discipleship, what we would call the Person of Peace strategy from Luke 10:1-11, the more I see it in my daily life and in the Scripture that I read. In chapter 10, Luke records Jesus’ words for us in verses 5-9:
5 “Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. 7 Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
8 “If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. 9 Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’
Basically we’d boil this down to say that a Person of Peace is someone who is ready to hear the message of the Kingdom and of their King and we would these three criteria to identify these folks:
- They like you (or welcome you)
- They will listen to you and
- They are willing to serve you (or we might say learn from you)
As I read today’s Moravian text in 2 Kings 4:8-37, I couldn’t help but see the startling similarities between the relationship that the prophet Elisha had with a kind woman from the city of Shunem and Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10.
In verses 8-10 of 2 Kings the writer tells us:
8 One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she urged him to come to her home for a meal. After that, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for something to eat.
9 She said to her husband, “I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. 10 Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.”
Does this sound like the kind of person Jesus was describing? She certainly liked Elisha and welcomed him. She saw that he was a man of God and listened to him, and she served him not only meals but she had her husband put an addition on to their house for him! And Elisha, who lived nearly a thousand years before Jesus walked the streets of Israel, responds to her kindness and hospitality exactly as Jesus instructed, “Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide.”
Later in their story the woman’s son dies and, because of their friendship, Elisha comes and heals the boy, (“Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’”)
Are you as amazed as I am at how true and unchanging God’s word is? Here in ancient Israel, nine centuries before Jesus sent out His 72 disciples and taught them to look for People of Peace with whom they could share the Good News of the Kingdom, Elisha was embodying this teaching as he found a person who welcomed him in, who listened to him, and fed him and served him. And because of that Elisha’s (and God’s) peace rested on that home and he proclaimed that God’s Kingdom was near by healing her only son and giving her son back to her!
I pray that this both comforts us today that we have such a firm hope that God’s word is true and unchanging and also that it invigorates us to seek out our own People of Peace that we can share the Good News of the Kingdom with.