Hunkered Down Devotion

Luke 10:3-12 (Voice)
3 It’s time for you 70 to go. I’m sending you out armed with vulnerability, like lambs walking into a pack of wolves. 4 Don’t bring a wallet. Don’t carry a backpack. I don’t even want you to wear sandals. Walk along barefoot, quietly, without stopping for small talk. 5 When you enter a house seeking lodging, say, “Peace on this house!” 6 If a child of peace—one who welcomes God’s message of peace—is there, your peace will rest on him. If not, don’t worry; nothing is wasted. 7 Stay where you’re welcomed. Become part of the family, eating and drinking whatever they give you. You’re My workers, and you deserve to be cared for. Again, don’t go from house to house, 8 but settle down in a town and eat whatever they serve you. 9 Heal the sick and say to the townspeople, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
10 Of course, not every town will welcome you. If you’re rejected, walk through the streets and say, 11 “We’re leaving this town. We’ll wipe off the dust that clings to our feet in protest against you. But even so, know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you the truth, on judgment day, Sodom will have an easier time of it than the town that rejects My messengers.

The St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry 5th is one of the great literary pep talks of all time.  There are others, like Mel Gibson’s charge to the assembled Scottish fighters in Braveheart is another.  Every sports movie ever made has one, whether it’s ‘win one for the Gipper’ or ‘We are the Titans’, these literary devices seem to be a necessity for any underdog to even attempt a long-shot victory.  

This passage from Luke chapter 10, where Jesus gives parting words to 70 disciples before sending them out to share the good news is as is a close as we get to a pep talk from Jesus.  If you are paying attention, however, you will quickly recognize that Jesus’ version is very different than most of the pep talks we have heard, experienced, or given.

One of the key components in any traditional pep talk or inspirational speech is it’s purpose, which is to broadly encourage.  But it isn’t just that.  At the heart of all of these pep talks is the intention to kindle and cultivate the belief – usually in an underdog – that the seemingly impossible is, in fact, possible with just the right combination of heart, effort, teamwork, and determination.  

Jesus, on the other hand, says no such thing.  Jesus’ speech diverges immediately by clearly stating that there will be some successes, but there will also be failures.  This is not exactly inspiring stuff, if we are being honest.  Jesus then goes through what should be our response both scenarios.  

Why does Jesus veer so far away from the traditional pep talk formula?  The heart of every traditional pep talk is the kernel of belief that ‘we can do it, no matter the odds’.  At the core of Jesus’ speech is a different belief.  First, Jesus gives us a dose of harsh reality – that we can’t, in fact, do it ourselves.  The reality is that no amount of plucky effort is enough on it’s own to live into the call of God on our lives.  

But that isn’t the bad news that it might seem at first.  Instead, that realization paves the way for the good news: that it isn’t about us, that God’s plan, God’s mission in and for this world doesn’t rely on us perfectly executing a ‘one in a million’ plan, but instead it relies on the faithfulness of our good God.    Our role in this plan is to faithfully go where we are sent and share the good news we have received and leave the rest up to God.  

Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that all doesn’t rely on us.  Help us to trust and depend on you.  Amen.

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