10:44 PM

maybe the Church in the western world doesn't get it-what the apostolic calling doesn't call us to (Jeanne)



In a seeming contradiction, Matthew 10 highlights the apostolic witness of the Kingdom of God as a path that counters physical comforts and safety, as well as fear. VV. 9-10 instructs the disciples to not include items of economic security, such as gold, silver, or copper, or physical addendums, such as a bag, tunic, sandals, or even staff. Luz maintains that by instructing the apostles to leave behind a staff, Matthew 10 asserts the Kingdom of God is one of defenselessness and peace despite violent resistance. Luz writes, “a person who has made arrangements in advance for food, is on the road in good shoes, strides along in normal clothing, and is armed with a staff against attacks, cannot proclaim the kingdom of God” (76-77). Not only are the apostles called to bear no items of economic security or physical addendums, but their witness is to be one as “sheep among wolves” (v.16), in which they will be flogged (v17), arrested (v.18), betrayed and put to death (v21), hated (v22), and persecuted (v23). Matthew 10 commissions the apostles’ witness to be as Jesus’ witness “a student is not above his teacher now a servant above his master” (v.24). Despite, or maybe because, Matthew 10 commissions the apostles to take up their crosses and lose their lives (vv.38-39), the Kingdom of God distinguishes itself from the expected fear that would come with pending persecution and possible death. Instead, Matthew 10 instructs the apostles not to worry (v19)) and not to be afraid (vv. 26, 28, 31) and discusses God’s supreme value and concern for them (vv 29-31). Like Jesus who prayed for God’s will to be done (26: 39, 42, 44), which resulted in his torture and death, the apostles’ are called to bear the lifestyle of Jesus by picking up their crosses and losing their lives so that they may find them (v. 38-39).

Perhaps Christians, such as those in North Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and the Middle East, understand the apostolic commissioning of Matthew 10 more than Western Christians are capable. For example, our Christian brother, Arshed Masih was burned to death in Pakistan yesterday for “refusing to convert,” leaving behind a wife, whose rape he was likely forced to watch, and three children. (http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/11627931/). Perhaps Luz is correct in in stating that the central point of Matthew 10 is that following Jesus makes suffering necessary (94). Yet, what does this mean if our apostolic calling costs us, as members of Christ’s Church in the West, so relatively little, than the rest of many of the members of Christ’s body worldwide?

Comment (1)

Check the comments on Steve M.'s post. What purpose is the poverty of the apostles serving? Rich people are disabled as gospel witness, but can they be witnesses to the gospel? Other parts of Matthew's story discourage us from romanticizing poverty (e.g., first pericope of ch. 26), but surely you're right that we are too quick to minimize how crucial poverty is to faithful witness in this ch. And much of Paul's mission was about addressing inequality in the Body of Christ like that which you mention (e.g., 2 Cor. 8:13-15).

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