Look for People of Peace

“I have been watching your life and I want what you have.”

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’” Luke 10:11:5-11

When Jesus sent out the seventy disciples, He directed them to go into communities and look for those in neighborhoods who would welcome them, literally, into their homes. But in addition to being received, it also means that those in the home would receive the disciple’s teaching. Jesus clarifies this when He tells His disciples, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16).

Understanding what Jesus is saying here is so freeing for us today as we work to spread the gospel. So often we feel the burden is on us to make people like us and to arm-twist them into receiving the message of the gospel, when the exact opposite is true. Jesus puts the responsibility on the recipient to become a seeker of truth.

It is up to the recipients to welcome us. They may be attracted to something in us (Jesus) and desire what we have. Perhaps they have been thinking about spiritual things for some time and will be drawn to you without knowing why. They may say something like, “You have a peace about you,” or, “I like your family. You seem so different.” They might even say, “I like you,” or, “I like being with you.” Whatever it is, they will take a liking to you. These are signs of a welcoming person or a person of peace.

The term “person of peace” implies that the person’s heart has been prepared and is open to Jesus and the gospel. He is someone to whom God has been speaking and preparing for an encounter with one of Jesus’ disciples.

A person who receives God’s peace has had an encounter that prepares him for salvation and discipleship. God’s peace rests on him because God’s favor is with him; as it says in Luke 2:14, “On earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Upon encountering those who have received this anointing, Jesus instructs His disciples, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10:5-6). The following story is a perfect example of a person of peace, one whose heart was prepared by God to receive the life changing gospel.

Lynn and Jo Cory’s Neighborhood (Apartment)

When Jo and I were first married, we lived in an apartment complex. We intentionally got to know our neighbors and looked out for them. It was a friendly environment where everyone knew each other’s names and stopped to talk with one another. Our building had a good mix of older and younger people. One of those neighbors, Don, took a liking to me. I was in my mid-twenties and he was sixty, which I thought was really old. We would talk on many occasions. His wife, Connie, was the life of the apartment building. She was always out by the pool with her year around tan. Connie was loud with a fun sense of humor and was loved by everyone.

One day, I invited Don to church, and much to my surprise, he began to attend regularly. Once, at the back of our little chapel, he said to me, “I have been watching your life and I want what you have.” I was quite surprised that a man of his age would humble himself to a man in his twenties. After a short explanation of the gospel, Don made a commitment to Christ.

Not long after this, Don asked if my pastor and I could come over and pray for Connie, who was Jewish. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the doctors did not give her long to live. She could not even get out of bed on her own. My pastor and I joined Don in the living room of his apartment to pray for Connie. When we finished praying, she came bounding out of her bedroom yelling, “You did this to me! You did this to me!” And then she started doing jumping jacks in front of us. We were amazed! My pastor shared the gospel with her and she invited the Lord into her life.

A week later Connie slipped away into the presence of the Lord. Don asked if I would conduct a small memorial service for her in their apartment. We had a sweet gathering and many of those in the apartment building joined us to celebrate Connie’s life. She had added so much life and laughter to our little community, and her presence was deeply missed.

A time for reflection:

This story of Don and Connie is a beautiful example of how God worked in their lives to prepare their hearts for the message of the gospel. We can’t make these kinds of things happen, but we can join our Father in the work that He is doing in our neighbors’ lives. Jesus sent out His disciples nearly 2,000 years ago to start the spread of the message of the gospel. At the time, there were not that many to carry the gospel forward, as Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Today, His disciples are all over the world with an opportunity carry on this good work in the neighborhoods where He has placed us. It starts with the Lord’s directive to look for people of peace, those who welcome you in your neighborhood. Who in your neighborhood would you consider people of peace? Make a list of these people and begin to pray that the Lord opens a door for you to have a conversation with them about Jesus. Remember, “The one who hears you hears me (Jesus)…” (Luke 10:16a).

Listen to Bruce Zachary's experience with Neighborhood Initiative.

Listen to Dallas Willard's word to pastors and leaders about Neighborhood Initiative.

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