Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town (Matthew 10: 11)
If the persons house is peaceful, the blessing will stand (Luke 10: 6-9)
These verses have been key texts for the methods of doing mission. Coming as they do amongst lengthier descriptions of the task ahead for the disciples as they are sent out. In faith based youth and community they mirror emerging group work practices, and at times have justified ministries that focus on finding leaders and group that follow that leader, almost a pied piper approach which is talked about but has little evidence for working as mission practice. I wonder why?
Does the instruction indicate a select the leader approach to group work?
On detached youthwork the leader in the group of young people is usually the one that gives permission using a variety of cues. On the streets the group might follow the leader in that initial moment. But leaders who act a gateways might not be leaders who develop or influence community.
So, where did Jesus put this teaching into practice? or the example already been experienced?
One example that I feel barely gets mentioned in this context in John 4, the tale of the Samaritan woman. A tale rightly used in thinking about inclusion, about worship, and about the revealing of Jesus as messiah to her. But what of the Samaritan woman as the , ahem, man of peace.
Jesus entered the village ahead of the disciples, but they weren’t far behind or might they have been watching from a distance ( John 4: 27-9). They’d gone to find food (v 8)
Jesus sat down at the well at noon (v6) he was tired.
He gave the opportunity for someone to prove their worth. By sitting others could rise to a task. And in Samaria, it was a Samaritan woman that ventured to the well.
If this was Jesus mission strategy it’s an interesting one. Waiting for others to opt in.
What we know is that Jesus and the disciples stuck around in the local area afterward (John 4;39) even in samaria so they received the welcome. And the gifts from this woman they were looking for.
What gifts does Jesus identify in this woman?
1. Willing by necessity to draw from the well, despite the scurge she would have been exposed to for her marital situation.
2. Willing to serve a stranger in an uncomfortable space, and take a risk.
3. She had knowledge of the local area and faith. She knew the dynamics of the well, the significance of the well (John 4:11) and initiates and welcomes Jesus to the well, shares knowledge with him. She also knows the messiah is coming (25)
4. yes she might not have known what Jesus was talking about at times – but was she likely too? Credit where credit is due she is interested in finding out more and questioning the messiah.
The man of peace is a woman who Jesus had gifts of bravery, faced hostility and didn’t shy away from responsibility, someone who was hospitable to Jesus requests. The man of peace is the questioning woman. The one who stood up to Jesus. The woman who wasnt afraid. The woman whose gifts could be identified and used. The man of peace, the example for the disciples who see it when they arrive, is the woman who had 5 husbands, from samaria.
So the leader who showed leadership wasn’t the most obviously socially connected. Wasn’t the person who flourished in the social system. The ‘man’ of peace who welcomed the Messiah and the disciples into their home and community isn’t a man at all.
With Jesus things got awkward quickly.
What might this mean for strategies of mission in the cultures of our communities. Which ‘man of peace’ might be easily identified but obvious.