Wednesday, August 19, 2009

JESUS' MISSIONARY STRATEGY: Part 4 FindingThe Man of Peace

"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house."
Luke 10: 5-7 (NIV)

We now come to the fourth component of Jesus' Missionary Strategy. The first three are: Work in teams; know where you're going; and develop a powerful prayer emphasis. Now we are approaching where the rubber hits the road and where we begin to engage the targeted community to form a beachhead for missional operations. A new term is being introduced, Man of Peace, to describe the targeted audience. Understanding this targeted audience is of the utmost strategic importance for the powerful penetration and the rapid spreading of the gospel throughout a mission field.

Finding the Man of Peace is the answer to the prayers that were offered up to the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers into the field. First one prays for more help in the harvest field and then one begins to search for the answer to that prayer. Finding the Man of Peace and establishing a beachhead for kingdom operations within his home is how the team is to prepare the community for Jesus' arrival or in the case of the book of Acts for the Holy Spirit's arrival. The home of the Man of Peace is to be the place where Jesus would base his ministry and operations within that town. This home would be the place where Jesus would teach, preach, heal and fellowship with his disciples and the residents of the community. This Man of Peace and his home would become the epicenter of Jesus' missional movement within that community that would naturally spread through his web of influence. This Man of Peace would be the key to opening the hearts of large numbers of people to receive Christ. Finding this man is critical to the success of saturating Christ's kingdom in that community.

But how does one recognize the Man of Peace and How does one find him? According to Thom Wolfe, former pastor of Church on Brady Street in East LA and mission professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, there are three characteristics that will identify the Person of Peace.

  • First, The Person of Peace has been prepared to received Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said,
"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is
there, your peace will rest on him;
if not, it will return to you."

Jesus is clearly indicating that the man of peace is one who is ready to receive the message of salvation. He is that fruit that is ripe for the picking. Every person who can be identified as a Person of Peace in the Gospels or the Book of Acts has been a person ready and eager to receive Christ. That doesn't mean that there are not others who are ready to receive Christ. There are. But remember the Person of Peace is a strategic tool, that Christ uses, to unlock the doors to large groups of people. Now while we are ready and willing to lead any and all people to Christ we must also be looking for that strategic Person of Peace whom God will use to open up large numbers of other hearts for his glory. Therefore, understanding the other two characteristics is vital.

  • The second characteristic is that they are people with a reputation. This reputation may be positive or negative. It doesn't really matter. The point is that large numbers of people know who they are. They have a familiar face or name within that targeted mission field. Hearing of this person has come to faith in Christ would cause the ears of many to perk up. People might even be shocked at the news that this particular person has become a believer in Christ.
The woman at the well that Jesus talked to was a person with a negative reputation. The Roman Centurion, Cornelius, was a person with a positive reputation. As I said before the kind of reputation is not important but the fact that they have notoriety or famous is what catches the eyes and ears of those that know of them. My very good friend, Larry Munguia, is such a man. Heavy into rock and roll music, drugs and alcohol Larry messed up his life so bad that he had lost everything including all respect from his family. Then at a Promise Keepers meeting he gave his life over to Christ and a few years later God called him into the ministry. People who knew Larry were shocked, to say the least, to hear of his new found faith! But now God has used Larry to start a church, THE SOBER PROJECT in Tucson, AZ, that has over 300 people in weekly attendance who are in recovery. God used his negative reputation to bring glory to himself. Larry is a Person of Peace.

  • The third characteristic is that the Person of Peace is highly influential. They are natural leaders. When they speak people, in their mission field listen and follow. The Person of Peace has a web of influence that can be very large. When he speaks about his conversion experience he has instant credibility the people. Because of their credibility people believe the validity of their testimony.
The Philippian Jailer had so much influence that his entire household believed and was baptized. The Samaritan woman at the well was instrumental for the whole town coming to faith.

When all three characteristics are present there is the potential for an explosion of people coming to faith in Christ. But we have to learn how to recognize them and how to capitalize on it. To many missed opportunities of large numbers of people coming to faith in Christ happen simply because we have not learned how to capitalize on this strategic missional principle. But that is a discussion for another post.

How do you find such people? Jesus instructed the 72 to go door to door until they found the person who match the description of the Person of Peace. Once that person was identified they were to stop their search and stay with that person. I will share more about that later but for now just understand the way you find the Person of Peace is the same way you look for a needle in a haystack, one house at a time.

If we are going to be effective in the rapid spreading of the Kingdom of God and the gospel, we must be determined to find the Persons of Peace that God has prepared. Being able to identify the Man of Peace is the skill that effective missionaries need to develop. It is important to understand that we are unable to create or even develop people to become a Person of Peace. This is the work of the God. It is God, the Lord of the Harvest, who is responsible for calling out the workers (Man of Peace) into the fields but it is our job to find this person, walk alongside them with encouragement, equip them and then unleash them into the harvest fields.