The ambassadors of Jesus
40 Blogs of Lent: Day 10
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
Matthew 10:40-42 ESVUK
What do you do?
Identity in the modern age identity is tied to employment. People are interested in what sort of job you do as this shows your status in society. As a retired person I am in the happy situation of being able to choose from the jobs I did in order to best fit in with people wherever I am.
The ancient world saw community in a wider sense than we do today. Identity was tied to family and community. ‘who are your family’ is the ancient equivalent of ‘what is your job.’ When a man was sent out by his community, it was not common to send a woman in those days, then when he was welcomed in a new place it was not only he but the community that sent him that was welcomed.
In church missionary work this is still true. When a church sends someone out they have a duty of care not only to the missionary but to the people she is sent to.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me,” said Jesus. He was sending the disciples out and was himself sent by the Father. Jesus and the Father are received by those who receive those who go out with the Gospel.
We are a blessing
It is all about blessing. Prophets are rewarded by God, but prophets were often made to feel unwelcome, abused or even killed by the communities they were sent to. Jesus has just warned the disciples, and all who follow them right up to when Jesus returns, so it includes us, about persecution. The world does not want to hear, “God says you’re wrong,” no matter how tactfully and lovingly the message is delivered.
But we are a blessing. Those who accept us do not get a share of our blessing, we get the same blessing that God gives us for going. If we accept someone God has sent then we get the same blessing for receiving them as God gives them. God is a generous God and wants to bless all people.
It’s the little things that count
Even a glass of water.
This is 21st century Britain, not 1st century Galilee. A glass of water is not usually a requirement when people arrive by car or by train and bus in the temperate British climate. Giving someone a glass of water could be seen as taking them for granted. Not so when they have walked or come by donkey cart through the Galilean heat, assuming thirst is a certainty, a sign in those circumstances that they are welcome, it is basic hospitality. In Britain in (time of the first draft) February in (looks out of the window) a hailstorm, a hot drink would be a more appropriate welcome, the British custom of offering tea is the nearest cultural alternative I can think of.
(Cars are skidding outside on the hail, I hope that when this blog is published in March you are all enjoying better weather than this.)
We will be rewarded by God for basic hospitality. Be elaborate in your hospitality if you like, but simple politeness, offering the basic minimum, is rewarded too.