I’m reading Mike Breen and Steve Cocram’s book Building a Discipleship Culture along with the Leadership Community at City Church Eastside. In the book, Mike and Steve flesh out a concept that I have found profound, the person of peace. It is a tool to guide us in our evangelism, and to relieve us of the anxiety of not being able to reach certain people with a Gospel message.
In 3DM: a taste of discipleship, I lay out aspects of their approach to discipleship. I find their model to be the best operating system for discipleship I’ve seen in my decade of wandering around the church. This idea of the person of peace comes directly from scripture. As He is sending the seventy-two in Luke 10:3-6, Jesus says:
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.
Jesus never pursued anyone. He made himself available to the willing, to those who were sincerely seeking God. In this passage, he is telling us to do the same. This is a wonderfully liberating idea. Jesus tells us to look for persons of peace in our lives. What does that mean? It means God is in the equation. There are certain people who are open to relationship with you. Those are persons of peace. God is at work on the hearts of people all around us. He touches people with His word, with His Spirit, and through other people.
So, if we calibrate our radar, and commit to investing ourselves where we have an opening, and work with the willing, we will be following God’s plan. Only the Holy Spirit can open a heart to hear the Gospel. When those opportunities arise, we are to be His witness, to tell our story of God’s movement in our lives. (See this post for more on Telling our Story.)
It is wonderfully reassuring to know that God is our partner in this work. The Spirit is planting seeds and preparing hearts. Our job is to be attuned to the spiritual temperature of those we encounter. Breen and Cockram emphasize discerning what season of life a person is living. They point out in scripture that there are seasons of planting, seasons of watering and times of harvest. Paul points this out in 1 Cor 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” So, we are challenged to discern whether it is a time for planting seeds, a time for watering, or a time for harvest. If we truly understand this is God’s work, we will be much happier doing planting and watering, even when we don’t see the fruit of the work.
If we are intentional in seeking persons of peace, then we will quit obsessing over those who are not open to hearing a Gospel word from us. They are simply not persons of peace to us, at least not at this time. We are simply to offer up our peace. If it is not accepted, it returns to us. Then, we shake the dust off our sandals, and move on to the next person. Sadly, some of those closest to us, dear friends and family, will not be persons of peace to us.
This concept has been very liberating to me. I set a design principle when I walked away from my business to only work with the willing. The person of peace idea is very consistent with that principle. Too bad I spent years violating that principle. Ignoring it caused me to crash and burn a couple of years ago.
It’s hard to push a rope or herd a cat, but sometimes we try anyway. Robert Fritz helped me learn that all we can do is make an offer. People are free to say no. If we aren’t comfortable with that, then at the end of the day are manipulating others.
I have painfully come to realize that if the path I’m pursuing is truly God’s path, He will provide the persons of peace needed to complete the journey. Since I tend to dream big, the resulting visions can rarely come to pass without the enrollment of a team. If we are moving with God’s will, then we will find the people and resources to attain the vision.
I’m so determined that even when I don’t find the persons of peace, I’ll bull ahead anyway, bent on proving something. That’s how you crash and burn, been there, done that. God’s not really interested in helping me prove something. May you be spared from falling in that trap.
See these other posts on 3DM