Monday, July 08, 2013

The spiritual power of pairs and small groups

Jesus divided the 12 disciples into pairs and sent them out on mission, giving them authority over impure spirits.

This sending of the disciples two-by-two has a practical side. Solomon advises, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)

There is a spiritual side as well. Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20, NIV)

The Book of Acts repeatedly illustrates these pairings:

Following Jesus' model of working in pairs increases accountability and provides encouragement. Working in pairs, the disciples experienced ministry success; they drove out many demons and healed the sick. (Mark 6:13)

Monday, July 01, 2013

“I don't care what the Bible says. It ain't Baptist!”

Mark 6:1-6

I don't care what the Bible says. It ain't Baptist!”

That was what the trustee of a Baptist seminary shouted when a theology professor tried to use the Bible to defend his controversial book. This learned man seemed to be making headway but the teaching was not part of the mainstream of Baptist thought. It was contrary to what the trustee had read in Sunday school quarterlies and heard from numerous pulpits. He rejected the message and the messenger without heed to the scriptural argument.

In a similar manner, Jesus was rejected in his hometown by his neighbors and family. The Nazarene had allowed tradition to become equal to God's Word. They did not believe the good news that Jesus was bringing. It was not in keeping with their custom.

Sometimes church members will fall into a rut of programming and traditions that lead to downward spiral of decline in numbers and missional effectiveness. Confronted with teachings that are biblical but unfamiliar, they chant, “We've never done it that way before.”

Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth (Mark 6:5). He left and never returned. Instead, he empowered and sent his disciples into the surrounding villages, where they drove out many demons and healed the sick. (Mark 6:13)

When the Nazarene rejected God's messenger, they not only missed out on the miracles that Jesus might have performed but, also, missed the blessing of being a part of God's work.

The Nazarene's rejection of Jesus did not prevent Jesus from performing miracles in other cities. The further rejection of Jesus by the religious establishment, the Roman government and, finally, the Jewish mob only served to advance Jesus' mission.

Churches rise and fall and so do denominations but the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)