Most people like to think ahead and be prepared for the future. That is wise (Luke 14:28). But it is foolish to think that our work for God depends on our skilful planning (James 4:13-17). That would arrogantly put us in control of the future, but the Lord says that is not our responsibility; it is His (Proverbs 20:24). However well prepared we are, every episode of ministry is a journey into the unknown. So, we cannot prepare for every eventuality because we do not know what they might be. God's provision comes in as we go out in faith (Philippians 4:14-19). It may be nice to think that we are self-sufficient, but that is against the ethos of the gospel. When Jesus comes into our hearts, He does so freely by His grace - because we have nothing to offer Him. When we go with the gospel of Jesus, we have no resource except the faith He gives to trust Him to provide.
Jesus was teaching the embryo church leaders that He supplies everything. This was to be their first mission trip without Him. Six groups of two men would travel to different places with the power of Christ calling people to repent (Acts 26:19-20) and believe in Jesus. It would be a prelude to many missionary journeys in the future. They had the authorisation of Jesus and another man's company, but no spare essentials, not even food or money. When they arrived in a town, they were to look for the generosity the Lord was going to provide. It is true that hospitality is part of the culture of the Middle East, and still is; but they were looking for a home which would welcome them because of a hunger for the Lord they represented.
Then Jesus told them to move to another place when the welcome and provision stopped. It was true in Elijah's day (1 Kings 17:4, 9), and the analogy may have reminded the trainee apostles that they would also be prophetic voices calling people to obey the New Covenant (Acts 13:47). If the Gospel message is rejected, they were to move on because they have had their opportunity. 'Shaking the dust off' may seem a heartless intolerance of those who oppose the gospel. But the mission of the Kingdom, as taught by Jesus, has a dynamic and urgency that is unfamiliar to many churches who are reluctant to present the claims of Christ. Instead they claim to 'build bridges to the community', which becomes an end in itself, instead of taking the gospel across the bridges.
Christians in the workplace naturally share a wide range of personal interests (family, health, leisure, hobbies, sport ...) so why not share the gospel? We are always inadequate for that task (2 Corinthians 3:4-5), but many believers structure their lives so that 'sharing Jesus' is the last thought, instead of the controlling principle (Acts 1:8). The Lord has set you in your community and workplace, to be a light. You cannot prepare for everything but pray for the faith to travel light, expecting the Lord to lead and provide. Food for thought … now decide to trust the Lord and go with the gospel!
© Dr Paul Adams