Gospel Message & Recording
When St. Paul went to Mars Hill, located in Athens, Greece to preach Christ to the Greeks (Gentiles), he did so by an alluding to the fact that the Greeks had a place in their temple dedicated to the unknown God. (Acts 17: 22-31) St. Paul preached that the unknown God is, in fact, Jesus Christ. After he preached, there were three categories of hearers: 1) those that rejected 2) those that have to think about it more 3) those that accepted. Here, we observe that St. Paul did his job, that is, preached Christ, and it was up to the hearers to respond. Similarly, when we as Christians do the work of the Lord, that is, evangelize, provide counsel, teach, preach, etc, we are the ones, as St. Paul states in 1st Corinthians 3:6, who either plant or water; but it is God that provides the growth. In other words, we cannot create the growth, or rather the “change,” in any person, (Christian or non-Christian) when we are attempting to help them or guide them to the Lord.
In the Gospel Reading today is taken from Matthew 10:5-16, Christ is sending out his disciples two by two and instructs in the following manner: “And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.” Another way of saying this is: ‘Go and preach the Gospel. If people accept, let your peace remain; if they reject, take your peace and go on your way.’ In the modern context, this means: talk/preach Christ to all, counsel others, provide advice and counsel, but in the end expect God to make the change (not you). If change does not occur, move on, without getting frustrated, disappointed, or impatient that you did not get a result.
Here are some examples:
- Providing counsel or advice: you may find yourself in a position where you are providing counsel or giving advice. We are often eager to see the change occur in the other person. We want to change their life in some sort of way. If we really examine this thought pattern—it’s pure ego. We are helping the person because we want to get results. Sometimes no matter what we say, or however much we might help, the person might not be willing to change. At this point there are feelings of disappointment that set in. This is the wrong approach. We should be willing to help others, in terms of counseling and advice, but with the realization that change is first foremost the prerogative of the one receiving by the Grace of God. Furthermore, we should be willing to move on and continue to love that person and pray for him or her. Here, the Gospel connection is: for those who will accept our advice, our peace will remain with them. For those that will not accept, our peace will return to us.
- Preaching the Gospel/Christ: we might find ourselves in a situation, where we can lead someone to Christ and to His Church. We might have invested time and effort in teaching and guiding them to Orthodoxy; but in the end, they show disinterest and are not willing to convert. Once again, this can be disappointing. Remember that we are not involved in “changing” that person. That’s God’s job. We are only providing the guidance for that change.
- Teaching: we might find ourselves teaching the Bible or a certain topic related to Christian living. The people who listen have an obligation to listen, learn and apply it in their lives. We as the teacher must do everything with excellence and leave the rest in God’s hands.
This is contrary to what we experience in our time. We want to be the “game-changer” the “all-star” teacher and preacher. However, this approach is unbiblical and in the end, it feeds our pride. The right approach is to do what God has called us to do in terms of serving in the Church and in the world, leaving the “change” and “result” to Him. If we apply this principle in our lives, our ministry will be more fruitful and effective.
- “Another way of saying this is: ‘Go and preach the Gospel. If people accept, let your peace remain; if they reject, take you peace and go on your way.’ In the modern context this means: talk/preach Christ to all, counsel others, provide advice and counsel, but in the end expect God to make the change (not you); and if “change does not occur--move on--without getting frustrated, disappointed, or impatient that you did not get a result.” Comment. Discuss.
- Do you feel you get disappointed when you invest your time and effort in someone and they don’t change or mend their ways? What have you learned from this message that may help you to overcome this disappointment?
- What experiences have you had with “planting” and “watering” in terms of church ministries, or personal connections with other people? Discuss your experience(s) and how effective they were.