Our paths are interconnected with the paths of many others.

In my last post Three Patterns I discussed the pattern Jesus taught his disciples to use to do ministry just like Him. And I commented that “following Jesus supernaturally into this pattern allows us to walk down the highway of the Gospel, which I will talk about in my next post.” So how does one learn to walk down the highway of the Gospel?

Paving Stones

The Highway of the Gospel is paved with millions of connected paving stones. Each stone is connected to others which are connected to many more still. To walk down the highway of the Gospel you need to first plant your feet on a paving stone. So what is a paving stone? It is what is commonly referred to as a “house of peace.” Here is how Jesus described[1] it in Matt. 10: 11-13: Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.

Finding the Paving Stones

But how do you find a house of peace? First you have to find the person of peace, what Luke called the man of peace and Matthew called the worthy man.[2] It is the person of peace who leads you to the house of peace. For more on finding the person of peace read my post Finding the Person of Peace. This is all a supernatural process which Jesus leads us into and through.

Interconnected Paving Stones

Each paving stone touches many others.

It is understanding how a house of peace works and how they are connected to other houses of peace that helps us understand how to walk down the highway of the Gospel. The word used in the Gospels for house is the Greek word oikos. This word does mean the building we commonly refer to as a house. But it has a much richer meaning. It also means the nuclear family that lives in that house, the extended family of that nuclear family, the servants or slaves of that family and even the intimate friends of that family. In other words, it means anyone who would rightfully spend time in that home. A much better word would be “household.” That’s why I think translating this word “house,” which merely refers to the building in English, is a poor translation. The building is a house only because of the household that lives in it. The people are the point, not the building.

When a person of peace (who is a part of the household) introduces us to their household we introduce them to Jesus and allow Jesus to dwell among them. But here’s the thing. Each one of us have numerous household or oikoi. Because intimate friend can be a part of a household and we can be a part of other people’s households our household is connected to many others. In fact, one way to look at the idea of “oikos” is to think of spheres of influence. One person can have many spheres of influence. Chrystal is part of her nuclear family. She is also intimately connected to her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and in-laws. But, she also has friendships and influence at work. The same can be said of her evening softball team and the PTA at her children’s school.

If Jesus connects you with Chrystal and she introduces you to her family you can bring Jesus to them all. But that is just the first step. Chrystal can introduce you to her friends at work, the softball league and the PTA so you can introduce them to Jesus. Or more ideally, she can just do it herself. And Chrystal’s husband Jeremy, who has friends at the bar and work and in the neighborhood can do the same. But let’s not forget what Annie, the pitcher on the softball team can do, or Jeremy’s buddy at the bar Rich who takes Jesus to the AA meeting. Rich’s cousin can tell her entire family, some of whom take Jesus to work, to their brother’s family who lives in France, and to the sailing club. Bill at the sailing club tells Conrad who gets so transformed by Jesus that he tell the entire workforce at the corporation he owns about it. Who knows where those people will take Jesus next.

Is this idealistic? That is exactly what happened in the first centuries of the Church. And it happened so fast that it got to Caesar’s oikos by Paul’s lifetime (see Phil. 4:22). It can happen today. There are a number of reasons why it doesn’t but a key one is that we no longer take the gospel to the households of the person we share the Gospel with. Instead, we wrench them out of their households and insert them into a new group of people we call a congregational church; which usually doesn’t act like an oikos at all. And, in doing so, we put a roadblock on the highway of the Gospel in the first generation.

Pick a question and respond:

  • I stated there are a number of reasons why we don’t end up walking down the highway of the Gospel today. I gave one reason; can you think of more?
  • Have you ever thought of our society as a interlocking set of spheres of influence? Did you ever notice the strategic implications of this?
  • Can you think of a society ancient or modern, technologically advanced or Amazonian forest dwellers who don’t have a society that works like this?
  • Why do you think we don’t take full advantage of the highway of the Gospel nowadays?

[1] Jesus also referred to the house of peace in Mk. 6:10; Lk. 9:4; Lk. 9:4 and Lk. 10:5. Zacchaeus’ house, Cornelius’ house, Lidia’s house and the Phillipian Jailer’s house were all houses of peace.

[2] People of peace are at least as often, if not more often women. Both Lydia in Acts 16 and the woman at the well in Jn 4 were people of peace. It was the convention of the day to use masculine terms to refer to both men and women, like we still use the term “mankind.”

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