Blog Post by Pastor Adam Stoddard
Matthew 10:7 “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Fun fact: Did you know that, if you blindfolded yourself and set off walking across an empty field toward a landmark, you’d eventually walk in a big circle, even though you felt like you were walking in a straight line? It’s true. Because one of your legs is dominant and stronger, it takes slightly longer strides while the other follows along. This is a big reason why people get lost in the wilderness and are unable to find their way out…they end up walking in big circles.
BUT, if you attempt the same thing with two blindfolded people walking together holding hands, they will walk across the same field in a remarkably straight line. This is simply because each individual’s tendency to walk in a circle is canceled out by the other person’s competing inclination. Thus, those traveling together get where they’re going and they ultimately avoid getting lost.
Shortly after Jesus called the twelve disciples to follow Him, He sent them out to have an experiential adventure in proclaiming the Good News. This was an early test case for the followers of Jesus, allowing them to gain valuable experience in God’s mission in the world. Along the way, they would grow in their understanding of what Jesus’ Kingdom might actually be about and how it should function. As was Jesus’ practice, He most likely sent the disciples out in pairs, to work together. But, even more importantly, I think He sent them out together so they could discover the value of having a partner on the journey, a fellow traveler, to facilitate growth and learning, to provide encouragement and guidance. Jesus established a pattern that we in the Church today should notice and emulate. Our task is to “go and announce that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Not go and get people to come to church, not get together and formulate elaborate programs to educate people about Jesus, and not go and get people to believe a set of facts and pray a sinner’s prayer. While these things matter and are important, they aren’t really the point of what Jesus sent us out to do. Ours is to go and announce. And when we go, we ought not travel alone.
We need the companionship and correction that comes from having a trustworthy friend as a fellow traveler, a common adventurer in the faith. This is the appropriate and natural context of discipleship and mentorship. Jesus’ idea of discipleship and mentorship among believers is primarily a horizontal relationship between two people who are committed to following Jesus and growing in His likeness. If evangelism, discipleship, and mentoring are left up to clergy and leaders to accomplish, we will continue to get the dismal results we’ve been seeing in the church. Once we understand that Jesus sent you and me to go out together, we’ll quickly discover the joy that comes from seeing lives transformed by the Gospel. And we’ll also discover the freedom and growth that comes from not walking alone and not walking in circles any longer.
Who has God placed in your life as a traveling companion? If Jesus sent you out today, who would He send with you? Maybe the first step for you is to pray and ask God to help you better understand your role in discipleship and mentoring. And then look around and grab the hand of someone nearby. Step in to the love of Jesus together and then step out to announce His Kingdom to the world.