Words of Faith 6-26-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.  If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them."
As Jesus sent out the Twelve to minister in His name, He gave them power and authority, and a plan and a promise. Part of this plan was direction regarding staying in a town and moving on.
As the disciples moved from town to town, Jesus directed them to enter a home and then stay put. Stay in the house you first enter. Don't be moving around. As they preached and healed people, there would surely be invitations to come and stay in different homes. Jesus knew that there would be a temptation for the disciples to upgrade their accommodations. After a few healings, they would likely receive invitations from the wealthiest homes in a town. Jesus told them to stay put. The ministry teams were to go to a house at the leading of the Lord and then stay there as long as they were in that town.
We don't know exactly why this was the case. It probably was not because Jesus was opposed to wealth. Jesus was familiar with several wealthy people over the course of His ministry including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany. In fact, a number of the women who followed Jesus were well to do and supported the ministry. But Jesus stayed in only a few homes that we know of.
Jesus stayed in the home of the mother-in-law of Peter while in the north around the Sea of Galilee. He also stayed in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany when visiting Jerusalem. He may have stayed in other homes while traveling but it is also likely that he camped with the disciples out of doors or in caves because of the size of their group.
So why not move around or upgrade? Probably Jesus realized that this would become a distraction and perhaps even a source of criticism. People become jealous easily and can be offended by traveling preachers who seem focused on bettering their accommodations. It could also be confusing for people who were sick to try and find a ministry team that moves to a new place every night. For Jesus, where we live and stay is not nearly as important as being faithful to the Lord and to touch the lives of those we meet.
It may also be that Jesus was aware that the more comfortable one gets the more difficult it can be to respond to the call of God move into a new territory.
But Jesus made it clear that there is a time to leave a town. "If the people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." Apparently, there was a time to stay and time to leave. And there were some clues when the time to leave had arrived. Jesus did not urge the ministry teams to stay when they were not welcomed.
How do we apply these directions? Most of us do not think of ourselves as being in traveling ministry, but that may be more the case than we realize. A first thought is regarding ministers, pastors and missionaries. So many faithfully serve and often in modest accommodations. But for some, there is a tendency to treat ministry as a corporate career climb.
Each better offer is a new "call" or opportunity. This does not really serve the Kingdom. Nor does constant upgrading of accommodations. A pastor or teacher focused on a new home every few years can be distracting. The key here is probably to listen carefully to the call of God and not to the call of the flesh. Jesus traveled from town to town but it never was motivated by a better salary package, a more prestigious pulpit, or a better parsonage.
Perhaps it should also be said that this is no excuse for congregations to neglect the parsonage or furnish it with their cast off furniture. Christian workers don't need to live in shabby places to be "spiritual".