Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Really Good Question

I was sitting in a room full of high school students talking about the reckless, rugged and rejected Jesus of the New Testament.  I was not talking about the tamed Jesus of the western Christian church.  I was having the teens take a fresh look at Luke 10:1-3.  Here is what that text says:
 "Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.  And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.  "Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves."
I began our discussion by asking these teens, none of whom I had ever met, to tell me something they were passionate about and something that they believed God to be passionate about.  Some were passionate about dance, music, writing, the opposite sex and so on.  As they talked about what they thought God was passionate about, they were pretty much in unison.  Their answers were about how God loves people, or wants them to love Him or wants them to know His Son etc.  After their answers, we began to talk about Luke 10:1-3.
I told them that Jesus was passionate about those very things that they believed God to be passionate about.  He was so passionate that He sent out 70 novices to carry the most important news of the world and to sort of pave the way for Jesus' coming into their towns.  Jesus was sending 'newbies' into unknown and probably dark places.  He sent them to 35 different locations (two by two).
Jesus told them that in those towns there was a great group of people who He knew were ready to come and realize that they needed Jesus.  The problem was that there were not enough people to send out.  Apparently 35 groups of two are not enough to get the job done.  Jesus told those 70 people to beg God (the Lord of the harvest) to send out workers into the fields.
Now where were these new workers to come from?  From the 35 cities He was sending His disciples to.  From Jesus' perspective, the next wave of missionaries (Christians) were not yet saved.  They were in the cities doing business, lying, being abusive, doing some good for their families etc.  Some may have even got drunk the night before and woke up in the wrong persons bed that morning, but very soon, they would know of their need for Jesus, respond to Him and become a harvester as a novice as well.
I encouraged the teens to be with those people who they felt the Spirit of God would lead them.  I told them that maybe those people would not be the nicer people of their school or work, but with those who are left out of spiritual things.  I also cautioned them that Jesus sent people out in teams of two.  In teams of two you can be accountable, pray together, encourage each other to leave if things get rough or people are drinking.  
As we looked at verse 3 of Luke 10, it says that Jesus intentionally sends out novices (sheep) into dangerous places.  We talked about the kind of shepherd who sends out defenseless sheep into the midst of a wolf pack.  Their minds were racing and the conversation was flying.
Then came the really good question.  "Ed, if what you are saying is true and we should be going and hanging out with people who are sinners and at parties and all, why do the spiritual leaders I know tell me to stay away from those people and those situations?"
It is a very profound question.  What would you say to this teenager?