We are preaching from Mark 6:1-29 in the Narrative Lectionary this weekend. I like to call this passage a missional sandwich with rejection bread. The mission of the church is tucked between two stories of how Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom is rejected in different contexts for different reasons.
Jesus’ hometown rejected him because he was too familiar.
Herod decapitated John the Baptist because he was trapped by his own need to be perceived as a powerful man.
The Gospel of Mark was written for the early church in a time when their mission would most likely be faced with harsh rejection. This sandwich was probably meant to be both a warning and an encouragment to not lose sight of the mission.
What would happen if the church today followed Jesus’ instructions to the disciples?
As I study this text, I see four basic instructions that could be radically helpful for the church today.
The church has accumulated a lot of baggage over the centuries. Our self-image shifted from being people on the margins, traveling to new places to being the fortress-like cathedral at the center of society.
What would happen if we suddenly didn’t have any assets: no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. We would be more nimble, perhaps. We would be less concerned about balancing budgets and more concerned about fulfilling the mission, perhaps.
Be a Guest
When our churches do actually go somewhere (instead of sit in our guilded boxes and try to get people to come to us) what do we do? The modern missionary mindset, especially for the past 250 years, has been to go to “those places” and bring “our answers” to them. We enter a village packed with supplies so that we can show them how it should be done.
What if we entered a place full of wonder. What if we found a place of peace and hospitality and entered as a guest. What if we ate what was set before us and learned the customs of that place, with no agenda other than seeking peace?
What if our only agenda was to bring healing and wholeness to every person and system we encountered? The Good News of the Kingdom of God is that God’s love is at hand. All are welcome. When we repent–change our perception–and see that God is with us, God is for us, and God’s love heals all wounds, then broken things can be made whole. The demons that keep us enslaved will be cast out.
Shake Off Rejection
The radical openness and freedom of God’s Kingdom is frightening to most people. Some people people have been swindled by huksters and hurt by hurtful people too many times. The known pain is safer than the vulnerability of God’s Love. Some people enjoy the control they have over others with rules and regulations.
“No thanks,” some say.
“Kill them!” others shout.
Our job is not to convince or cojole. Our job is to seek peace and healing wherever we go. If people aren’t ready, we simply move on with no argument or animosity. We shake the dust and keep walking.
How Can We Do This?
We can do this because we know who we are. We are people who have been set free by the love of God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the world.
We have nothing to lose, because we have already been given everything we need.
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