Partnership: An Exercise in Inter-dependence

linkinghands2.jpgJesus appointed “the twelve” as apprentices primary to be with Him but eventually to be sent out as His ambassadors to reach all people with the gospel (Mark 3:13-14). The context reveals how Jesus Himself with respect to His own mission was taken for granted and insulted by folks in His hometown (6:1-5) . What was Jesus’ response? He commissioned these disciples and sent them to minister to the poor and those who had not heard of his kingdom. Let’s consider how these workers were to accomplish Jesus’ mission. We will discover that the main lesson Jesus’ followers were to learn was to trust and demonstrate this in their working together (6:6-13). There are three areas, perhaps four, in which he teaches them and us today, the vital need, intrinsic value and importance  of partnership

First, they were to learn to depend on one another (v.7). Jesus sent them out “two by two” rather than into an “independent ministry”. Why? They were to be of mutual help and encouragement  in times of danger, disappointment, and spiritual despondency. Since they shared the same source of empowerment  and authority, teamwork was the obvious and efficient way forward. Certainly today as never before, personal morality and pastoral integrity are two key areas where ministers need to make themselves accountable.

Secondly, they were to learn to ultimately depend on Jehovah Jireh.  Jesus’ seemingly strange instructions (vv.8-9) on the bare minimum baggage to carry, served a crucial purpose. This would remind them that they were on God’s business and on a short-term mission trip to the poor. Hence, they were to identify  with the people they were seeking to reach and so also simplify  their lifestyles. This was to indicate their total dependence on God’s providence. Also simultaneously, this would inspire and induce this same kind of faith in the ones who become believers by the powerful witness their very lifestyle bore.

Thirdly, they were to learn to depend on the goodwill of others when they stayed in homes to share the gospel. This takes tough trust: putting aside pride and meekly receive the hospitality of “secular” people who perhaps may not respond positively their message! Staying “in one place” would both promote contentment  and avoid a comparative  spirit in ministry. These were to proclaim the Word and perform the works that Jesus authorized them to. When they “shook the dust off their feet” they symbolically placed the responsibility on their hosts to be judged by the gospel. Yet, working along side this was their mission of mercy and healing seen in the “anointing with oil” to show concern.

This eventful occasion clearly presents us with Jesus’ model for partnership in mission. Rather than an unhealthy independence  or an impoverishing dependence  there is an effective inter-dependence  that enriches and empowers Christian outreach. However, most remarkable from this incident is another aspect of trust. It is the humbling truth that in all this, Jesus Himself was in a way was learning and thereby modelling what it means to depend on His feeble and fickle followers even as He entrusted them with His own mission and ministry.

Certainly there are several hindrances and hurdles in attempting to build trust and make this kind of partnership work. Nevertheless, the challenge for the Church in our mission still remains. Our Lord Jesus entrusts us with the stewardship of the gospel. Can we not follow His model and make very effort to trust one another as fellow ministers and strive together for the faith of this same gospel? After all there is “no other name” and I am convinced there is “no other plan”. As Christians let’s partner in ministry that the world may believe in the One who sent us- Christ the Savior of the world.

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