Carrying a Big Stick...

Reading from Mark 6:7-13, Jesus commissions the disciples to go out two by two. He sends them out without money, food, or extra clothes which would unnerve many mothers who adhere to the "clean pair of underwear just in case of a car accident" law. They carry only a staff. The staff is incredibly interesting, because the word for staff here can be used not only for a walking staff but also for the concept of a king's scepter. Throughout the Bible, a staff is used by God in miraculous ways. Moses' staff is merely held up in the air during battle to help Israel defeat their enemies, Aaron's staff buds with life and is kept in the ark of the covenant, and promises are made such as in Psalm 2 where the "scepter" of the king in David's line will rule all the nations.

So what?

The disciples are sent into the world without all those things we believe are signs of life and vitality - the basics of food, clothing, and resources - but the one thing they have is a staff. A historical symbol that God has used in the past and will use again in the future, as the text says that Jesus gave His disciples "authority." The word is exousia, which is not power in the sense of "muscle" but power in the sense of authority or permission. The staff, I believe, is the sign that the disciples have been given the ability to destroy evil and the things that destroy the world.

For you and I, as disciples of Jesus, one of the key elements of spiritual formation is this:

We are being trained to live freely and dependently on God without the things that are commonly seen as necessities so that we might have permission - more and more every day - to walk into our families and neighborhoods and workplaces and set people free.

My question is this: are you willing to surrender the tunics, bread, and finances in order to possess authority over the things that bind and break the world in which we live? The beautiful life of freedom in Christ says, "You don't have to be afraid. Some will listen and some won't, but that's on them. You go and set people free and learn to live by that grace more and more every day. I'll take care of the rest."