Luke 10 records the story of Jesus sending out the seventy to all the cities in which he intended to go. As he sends them out Jesus admonishes them with an important statement, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, therefore ask the lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” Jesus then goes on to give the seventy some interesting commands. Don’t take any bag or purse with you when you go. Don’t greet anyone on the road that you meet. When you enter a town stay with the first person that offers you a bed to sleep in. Eat whatever is provided. If no one will welcome you, shake the dust from your feet and move on to the next town. In all things proclaim, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” And in the very middle of this section Jesus makes an interesting statement,
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:5-6)
It’s interesting that for the seventy their task and responsibility was to proclaim peace, it was to bring peace, it was to be agents of peace. They had the calling from Jesus to spread peace wherever they went. However, their responsibility was not to create peace. Their responsibility was not to ensure peace. If the other members of the house did not accept the peace of God it was to return to them. The seventy were only responsible for their side of the equation, they were only responsible for making sure that they acted in a way that brought peace. They could not control the other parties involved.
This leads to a revolutionary understanding in many ways about our role as agents of God. Many Christians feel a great responsibility in how others respond to us and to our message. We have a message from God, it is a message that brings life and peace and meaning. It is the most important message anyone could ever share or ever receive. God has commanded us, and even sent us out to share the message and to work the fields because the harvest is plentiful. Because the harvest is plentiful many of us feel a responsibility to work in such a way that others respond favorably. And if they don’t respond favorably we criticize ourselves and work even harder to get positive results. Yet Jesus is reminding us, the response is not our responsibility. How others respond to the message of Jesus is not our responsibility, our responsibility is to be agents of God’s peace and to proclaim his peace to the world. God will take care of the response. The only thing we can control is ourselves and to make sure we are honoring God with our actions.
This understanding frees us from the self-critical attitude and the feelings of guilt that so often haunt us because we aren’t good enough or we aren’t effective enough. Realizing that how others respond is not our responsibility frees us from feelings of doubt and insecurity. However, even though we are free from guilt we still have a responsibility. Jesus is reminding us to act in such a way that brings peace. We are reminded that while we are not responsible for the other person’s response, we are responsible for our actions, our attitudes, the things we say and the things we do. We need to be people who bring God’s peace with us wherever we go. We need to proclaim God’s peace to the world and offer it in every place; whether at work, in the restaurant, at the park, or even in Wal-Mart. We are people who go about proclaiming peace and living in a way that brings peace everywhere we go. If people accept the peace, praise God. If they do not, we don’t get discouraged, we simply share the peace with someone else knowing that God is ultimately in control of the outcome and he will draw individuals to repentance.