Read: Matthew 10:9-15
Jesus after commissioning the 12 to proclaim the kingdom in Israel, he gives them some specific instructions on how to do it: go into a town and find a person who welcomes them and stay there, and “peace” shall fall upon that house. Jesus tells them not to take anything along, rather to find their way entirely based upon the generosity of those who hosted them. This method insured that the disciples wouldn’t trust in anything other than the providence of God as they went about preaching the gospel. And Jesus says that sometimes they wouldn’t be accepted – in this case they would go to the next town, but before leaving they would shake the dust from their feet as sign of judgment on the that.
This principle of going into a town and finding a “person of peace” was certainly practiced by the early missionaries and apostles as they went about proclaiming the gospel.
- Acts 10 tells the story of Peter going to the house of Cornelius who was a Roman centurion who heard the gospel and believed it. He and his entire household were baptized.
- Acts 16:11-15, 40 tells of Paul and Silas going into Philippi and preaching the gospel to Lydia who was converted. Her whole household came to faith.
- Acts 16:22-24 tells the story of the Philippian jailer who too was converted, he and his entire household because of the gospel.
On all of these cases, there was a single person of influence in a community who was found to be open to the gospel and then received it. As a result, numerous others came to known Christ. In the cases in Acts 16, a church grew out of these conversions, to whom Paul later wrote the letter of Philippians to.
There is, however, one occasion in Acts 13:13-52 where no person of peace is found. Granted, there were some people who believed the gospel and were saved, nevertheless because there was great hostility toward Paul and company, they left shaking the dust from their feet in as a pronouncement of judgement on that town.
The person of peace principle still holds as cornerstone in most any disciple-making strategy. Missionaries all over the world use the model that Jesus gave as a way of extending the gospel into villages, towns, college campuses, cities, communities, and even places of work. Missionaries will find a person of peace in these settings and partner with that individual to help establish a lasting presence in which churches can be started and disciples can be made of all those who will hear the gospel. Applying this principle in one’s own disciple making context will help spread the gospel to places it would not otherwise go and create a lasting presence so that the effort multiplies.
Lord, help me to find a person of peace in my context!