Monday, 23 November 2020
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The modern-day 70 Davide Cantelli/Unsplash

The modern-day 70

I wanted to skip over it, to move on to something more “interesting.” I’d read it before, knew the story, had the t-shirt. But there it was, next in line: Luke’s narrative, 10th chapter.

This isn’t a Bible study—no need to find it unless you’d like. It’s the story of Jesus sending out 70 “others,”—followers who likely weren’t part of the 12. 

Their mission was to proclaim the coming kingdom of God, heal the sick—all of that.

You know the end of the story. They came back, stunned and amazed that “even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Jesus congratulates them and reminds them the most important truth is not that they can control spirits, but that their names are recorded in heaven. Good news, for sure.

I’d read all of it before, and while it is a great story, I couldn’t identify with it. The story is so amazing—but it was hard to see how it is applicable today.

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Still, I read it again—just to plow through and get to the next story and the next chapter. 

But this time was different. One phrase—a familiar one—popped out at me. Tugged at me. Made me think. How many times had I read it before? A dozen? Fifty times? More. I don’t know. But there it was, at the end of the eighth and ninth verses:

“And whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

Did you catch it? Like I said, I missed it dozens of times. “Say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

Wait a sec. This is almost exactly what Jesus said in Matthew’s account (4:17), when He proclaimed that his listeners should “Repent (meaning, ‘to think differently’), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John the Baptist said the same. It’s a common theme, right? 

The big deal however, is that the 70 are “only” followers. Jesus isn’t even going with them—He is sending them.  John the Baptist isn’t going, either. Likely, not even the 12. Yet, these followers—not in the “inner circle”—were given the authority to say the words, “The kingdom of heaven is near.”

The 70 reached out to the sick, the hurting, the struggling. And these the 70 reached in the throes of struggle heard the incredible words of hope. They got to hear God was with them, that He hears them, that He is attuned to their needs.

When the 70 spoke these words out in the cities, Jesus wasn’t walking with them, coaching them. They were—physically at least—on their own.

Aren’t we like the 70?

I think about our calling, that of the pregnancy help community—a lot. And the more I consider our mission, the simpler it becomes.

If we want to be successful, ultimately it will not be because we have the best equipment, the most talented people and the most effective methods to communicate facts and information. Don’t misunderstand—all of these characteristics are important. We should seek the best in all we do.

But ultimately, success in our mission is when we creatively communicate the simplest—but most powerful--truth to the hurting who come in our door: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” 

We’re not those original 70 whom Jesus sent. But if we choose, we can be a modern-day version of this crew.

Tweet This: Success is when we communicate the simplest but most powerful truth to the hurting who come in our door:“The kingdom of heaven is near”

Healing for today

Back then, healing was the tool they used most often. It made perfect sense. Medicine was rudimentary in those days, so seeing someone healed of a malady always captured attention. Does this still happen today? Yes. I’ve seen it. Perhaps you have, too.

Today however, our most effective tool may be some characteristics disappearing in today’s culture: Connection. Love. Hope. 

Today’s young people don’t actually speak as much as they text. Too often, true connection is missing. We offer exactly what they need

Social media has its upsides, but it also brings out rants, anger, bullying, divisiveness. Those we see are desperate for someone to show them what love looks like.

And with negativity the order of the day, our clients and patients need someone to calmly help them take a breath and understand that even in trying situations, there is hope.

“Near”

None of us can describe the kingdom of heaven perfectly, but we can surmise it is a place of love, joy, peace . . . we could go on. In the kingdom of heaven there is no pain, no uncertainty, no condemnation. In modern language, in the kingdom of heaven, “It’s all good.”

Is the kingdom of heaven “near” today? There’s every reason to believe it is. Let’s make sure those who come in our door see this belief on our faces, hear it in our voices and witness it in our actions. As we do, we’ll figure out a way to say this so that anyone—in any situation—will understand.

Bottom line? Let’s think of ourselves as the 70—modern day followers carrying good news. It’s the kind of news our patients and clients need now, more than ever. 

If we make this a key focus of our mission, who knows what the impact might be? The 70 saw stunning results, so powerful even Jesus seemed amazed. Could this happen today? I don’t know. But wouldn’t it be fun to find out? 

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at www.kirkwalden.com

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