At Gateway Church in Austin, we are continuing a series called “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”
Part of following God means not being complacent, not staying where we are in life, but instead, being willing to GO. God wants us to go love others, go show mercy, and go share the love Jesus freely gives to us. But going requires a willingness to abandon our own will and take on God’s will instead. Are you ready and willing to go where God sends you?
These discussion questions are designed for your life group or family dinner to help you apply the message to your life.
Audio of the Message I shared at Gateway South:
Here are notes from the message written by Ted Beasley:
In this series, we’re discussing the adventure of faith – how the best life can be found outside the comfort zone. And we’re looking at some of the statements in Scripture in which God says to comfy, easy chair believers: “Go!”
Today we’re in Luke chapter 10, where Jesus is talking to a bunch of religious scholars. They ask him, “What I do I need to do to go to heaven? Jesus says, “That’s easy: three things. Love God with all your heart, soul strength and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. And don’t sit on the same side of the restaurant booth with your significant other. That’s weird, ok?”
One of the big shot intellectuals asks, “About #2, who exactly is my neighbor?”
And Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. We’ve covered that passage frequently here at Gateway. It’s an ironic tale of a spiritual misfit who ends up being more compassionate and spiritual than a bunch of religious professionals.
Jesus wraps it up with the phrase, “Go and do likewise.” Go and be neighborly. Go and show mercy to people.
What we’re curious about today, is not the Who to be neighborly to. That’s the point of the Good Samaritan, basically anyone you see with a need you can meet. Let’s focus instead on the How. The How is where the adventure/fun of being a follower of Jesus comes. It’s in the verses right before the following:
Luke 10:1-20. After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. . . . “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ . . . “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” . . . At that time Jesus [was] full of joy through the Holy Spirit.
That’s a really interesting phrase at the end. Jesus was full of joy because of something the disciples did. He’s obviously a joyful man, a joyful God. But only three times in the New Testament does it say that something made him joyful.
- John 11 says that he rejoiced in the opportunity to raise Lazarus from the dead.
- Hebrews 12 says that Jesus was actually joyful about going to the cross.
- But this is the only phrase that shows Jesus partying as the result of something someone else did.
And he’s not the only one. Verse 17 says that 72 of his followers go out on a mission return, and they come back filled with joy.
I’m sure Jesus shared happiness with people every day, but Luke is the only gospel writer to show Jesus full of joy through the Spirit because of something cool someone else did.
Even now, Jesus is beside himself with joy when you and I get out of of our plush chair and live out our faith and experience the exhilaration of the changing people’s lives.
John Ortberg says that the easy chair is the most dangerous piece of furniture in your house. Easy chairs are all about comfort, and today we’re talking about how the pursuit of comfort and safety is what often interferes with you truly enjoying your life with God.
Let’s be honest, when we are in full recliner mode, if God has some really difficult challenge for us right now, what do you think our response would be?
Just consider for a moment your own relationship with the Lord – and joy/excitement/adventure of it, or the lack thereof.
- Is your life devoted to the most dangerous object in the house – the easy chair? Do you mostly arrange your life these around maximizing comfort and avoiding difficult situations to stretch you in new ways?
- Or are you the kind of person who is tenacious about the plan God has for you?
Oh the places you’ll go, oh the things you’ll see, oh the joy you’ll taste, if you’ll just pry yourself from the chair, if you’ll just leave behind your protected Christian life.
Let’s look at this story of Jesus sending out the seventy-two in Luke 10. Let’s learn how to “go and do likewise”. And I want to frame this with five excuses, five things we tell ourselves that keep us melted into the easy chair of faith.
Before you do anything, Jesus says to pray.
Before you go, pray. The mission is so enormous, the adventure seems bigger than we can grasp hold of ourselves. If you’re stuck in a comfort zone, if you’re not sure how God wants you to join him in the adventure, if you don’t know where to start, sit in that recliner and just pray.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Luke 10:2
If you don’t pray, you probably won’t go, or you’ll go half-cocked under your own power. Have you been praying about living out your faith?
Excuse #1: I’m not sure where to go.
Where is Jesus sending me?
In our passage, Jesus gathers 72 followers together. These are not the disciples. He sent them on a similar mission just the chapter before. This is a larger group of men and women who had been doing life with him, traveling with him, hearing his teaching. Just common, ordinary people like you and me. Early church traditions say that members of this group were instrumental in spreading the gospel throughout the world and were the backbone of church leadership once Jesus ascended to heaven. Where was he sending them?
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. – Luke 10:1
Nobody’s going to Rome or China or even Jerusalem. Basically, he’s sending them out in pairs to the immediate vicinity – their neighborhoods, the next town over, the places that are familiar to them.
The most important detail here, though, is that Jesus is sending them ahead to the places he wants to go. God typically doesn’t just go someplace. He sends a representative ahead to scout or to prepare or to introduce.
- He sends Joshua and Caleb ahead to the promised land.
- He asks Isaiah and other prophets, “Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?”
- John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” getting people ready for Jesus.
- Jesus sent a couple of disciples ahead to make preparation for the Passover.
Do you get the pattern, often before God will really bring His power to bear in a situation or in a person’s life, he sends normal people like you and me ahead.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. – 2 Corinthians 5:20
Rather than overwhelming people with his presence or making some kind of mysterious, hard-to-detect overture, he sends you as a tangible representation of his love, as a credible testimony of what he can do in a person’s life.
If you are having trouble getting started, don’t go outside of your world. Be salt and light in your neighborhood, workplace, on your way to the store, on the sports field, in your hobbies. God put you where you are for a reason. Can’t you see he is sending you ahead of him? One life at a time. And you don’t have to go to Zambia. You can go to Zilker Park.
Life in the spiritual recliner is so boring. What could be more fun than Jesus sending you ahead of him to meet needs in your own little world?
Excuse #2 Maybe later.
Jesus says the adventure starts now.
Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. – Luke 10:3
If you’re going before Jesus, you want to be prepared, right? You want to be careful and planned. You need to think this through. Usually this means you want to stay in control, minimize the risk of failure and follow God on your own terms. Jesus pulls the handle on the recliner and dumps us out of the seat. “Don’t think about this too much. Don’t pack. Trust me. Just go.”
Anyone here want to admit to being a procrastinator? Jesus knows that spiritual procrastinators never get started. Is there something 20 years or 20 weeks ago you felt convicted to do, but you never started? The tragic flaw is that we procrastinators think in all or nothing terms – either I do it all the way, or I do nothing at all. But there have to be intermediate steps.
It’s the small steps that build on each other and form momentum.
One of the great inverted truths of Scripture is that feelings follow actions. We live in a world that says if you don’t feel like, don’t get started, don’t do it. If your heart isn’t 100% in, then you’ll probably quit.
The Bible communicates the opposite. Feelings will come after action. Jesus says to a group of bored Christians in Revelation 2, who used to have such great adventure with the Lord, that they have lost their feelings for him. So what does he prescribe? “Go back and do the things you used to do when you first fell in love with me. Do them, even if you don’t feel like it at first.”
It is in the process of doing the right things, that we see positive reinforcement, and eventually our feelings come around. Start today.
What’s a small step you could take right now towards going before God into your neighborhood or office or group of friends? Some small action of discovery, some movement of faith, a conversation that my open the door to the next step and the next step.
Excuse #3: I don’t have anything to offer.
The 72 are sent ahead of Jesus into lives and homes in their own backyard. It’s a brief journey. They’re expected to report back to Jesus quickly. But what is it, precisely, that Jesus is sending them out to do? Let’s look at verses 8-9:
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Luke 10:8-9
This may surprise you, but during his public ministry, Jesus and his disciples depended entirely on the hospitality of others as they went from town to town. In fact, travelers in ancient times relied heavily on the hospitality of strangers as traveling could be dangerous and there were very few inns, and poor Christians could not afford to stay at them, anyway. In the ancient Middle Eastern culture, which embraced the sacred responsibility of entertaining strangers, someone who knocked on your door was believed to be sent by God. Jesus is instructing them to knock on doors, in other words, to enter into the lives and space of these people, assess their needs, and offer healing.
Use the encounter to strike up a conversation about how God cares specifically about them, and his “kingdom” has the power to change their world. Do you get the instructions?
Knock on a door, meet a need, and if you get a chance, talk about God.
You do not have to be some kind of spiritual master to have something to offer.
This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.
– Matthew 10:41-42
Jesus says, don’t get overwhelmed by the needs. Love is as simple as giving a cup of cold water.
Mother Theresa said, If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
A cup of cold water doesn’t take a lot of imagination. It doesn’t require much time. It’s just a simple, sincere act of love. Seeing a need, meeting a need. But it is a cup of cold water that will transform your neighborhood. A cup of cold water, one at a time, ambushes Austin with God’s love. The cup of cold water changes the world. Great music and big church buildings don’t change the world. Do you think our neighbors are praising God every Sunday for the traffic blessing we give them on McNeil Drive? We don’t change the world when a church builds a building. We change it when you – I’m talking to you sitting in your chair – when you serve a cup of cold water.
Excuse #4 What if they reject me?
Fear is what takes the fun out of walking with God – all of the what if’s? Jesus says, let me take the pressure off.
“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” – Luke 10:16
It’s not about you, it’s about me. Let it go, because they’re not rejecting you.
Excuse #5 What difference does it make, really?
The 72 return from their brief adventure to the nearby towns and villages. Jesus is waiting with a smile on his face. “So, how’d it go? Tell me everything.” And the stories begin. When the stories dies down, Jesus says something remarkable in verse 18-20
While you were gone, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:18-20
There was a physical thing happening, but there was also a spiritual thing happening. In the visible realm, the disciples were leaving their easy chairs and traveling around and meeting needs. But Jesus says, “In the unseen spiritual level, Satan fell. You pushed back his darkness. Through your simple acts of love and compassion, you crushed the enemy. This is how we win. This how the church advances. Not through politics. Not through marches on Washington or social media protests. Not in dramatic ways. But when you leave your comfort zone, see a need and meet a need. The power of God flows through you. You do the miraculous. But don’t get caught up in the miraculous. The real magic is that you are living the life of faith, the life of adventure you were destined for.”
Wordsworth once wrote:
The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.
This week, see a need, meet a need. As you go this week, find someone who might need a little assistance or encouragement, and offer a cup of cold water. When a person focuses on giving herself or himself to others, oh, the places they go.