“PUT ME TO DOING,”
Today’s Scripture Reading
10 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. 2 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. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
In order to understand the short four-word phrase in the prayer, "Put me to doing," we have to understand it within the context of the second part of the phrase, another simple four-word phrase, "put me to suffering." The suffering, which we will discuss in the next daily reflection, can be interpreted as what happens when we take on the life that Jesus lived -- a life of mission and ministry that will cost us something and require that we die to self-interests and take on the interests of Jesus.
If "Put me to doing" in Jesus's name is best understood as knowing that the work God gives us is the kind of work that Jesus would do, we might even say, "Give me the kind of work in which i will likely suffer." That raises the next question, "What is the kind of work that Jesus did in which he clearly suffered?"
The kind of work Jesus did is really quite simple. As you know, simple and easy are not always synonyms, so there is nothing easy about doing the kind of work in the world today that Jesus did when he walked about Israel teaching, healing, caring for, and rebuking. Yes, of course Jesus suffered on the cross. Jesus's humiliating death on the cross is where he suffered most. However, Jesus also suffered in many other ways. Again, we'll dig deeper into Jesus suffering in the next daily reflection. The point is that to pray, "Put me to doing," is intricately linked to "put me to suffering."
Our work today, to reflect the suffering work of Jesus, is similar work. It is multifaceted work marked by two types, or maybe better said, marked by two sides of a coin -- work for the people on one side and work with the people on the other side.
Work for the people was Jesus as he took on a prophetic ministry in which he brought the message of God to the people, as the Word of God or the logos. Of course, we do not confuse ourselves with ever being the logos -- God Incarnate. We do, however, in a prayer of "Put me to doing," recognize that we are here on earth to represent God to all those we come into contact with. We are to be images of God's love, and our prophetic message is in how we articulate God's saving grace in our lives. The gospel message is simple. The gospel message is that in Jesus Christ, there is salvation and justice. When we are "put to doing", we are placed before people to share the good news, the gospel. This side of the coin is the evangelical gospel that transforms the souls of the very people Jesus came to seek and to save -- the people searching for purpose and meaning, and for hope.
A deeply committed disciple recognizes that work for the people means we are the storytellers of God's amazing grace. In Acts chapter 1, Jesus instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, after forty days of teaching them about the kingdom of God, and he told them to wait for the Holy Spirit. The disciples, although they had no idea to that point what Pentecost would look like, were previously briefed on who the Holy Spirit was. They knew who the Holy Spirit was because of, among other ways, the teaching Jesus gave them in what we refer to as the Upper Room Discourse, which can be found in John 14-16.
Jesus told them in Acts 1:8 that the power of the Holy Spirit would be given to them. It would come upon them and, out of that power, they'd be the witnesses to the life of Jesus. Jesus was essentially saying that the way people would now come into contact with Jesus would be through their work and witness, word and deed.
We are now the ones giving evidence of Jesus's true redeeming work The same Holy Spirit that came upon the disciples in Jerusalem and sent them out to save thousands sends us out into he world to bear witness to God's redeeming work. We are "put to doing" God's work when we advocate for people by sharing God's amazing good news that in Jesus Christ, there is salvation and justice.
Working with the people is priestly work. This is the social side of the coin. One side of the coin is the evangelical side, as noted above, and the other side of the coin is the social gospel. A social gospel demands we right the wrongs of the world and in doing so, apply Christian ethics to everyday problems. We right the wrongs for all people, especially for the vulnerable and oppressed -- those who face such issues as economic inequality, poverty, racism, educational opportunities or lack thereof, environmental concerns, gender inequality, slavery, and many other forms of subjugation. The work of Jesus was to meet the everyday needs of the poor, the sick, and the burdened of any kind, and to tackle the systemic issues of injustice.
To pray, "Put me to doing," then, is to open our minds, hearts, and hands to carry out God's mission to restore the world toward it's intended wholeness by practicing what Jesus practiced -- sharing the good news and restoring society -- in order to reveal the reign of God. Just as the disciples were sent to preach the good news and heal the world around them, so are we sent to do the work of God in the world. This work is both for the people and with the people. It is soul work, so to speak, and it is social justice.
Have I ever served in such a way that it has cost me something?
How willing am I to suffer like Jesus did to do God's work?
Open our minds, hearts, and hands to bear witness to your work in this world, in both word and deed. Amen.
TWO CONCEPTS, ONE COIN
There are two sides to the gospel coin: the evangelical side and the social gospel side. Today, carry a coin in your pocket. Throughout the day, take it out and hold it in the palm of your hand. As you hold it, pray that God would give you one opportunity to share your faith and one opportunity to meet the need of a person you come into contact with.
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