Both/And

Text: Luke 9:1-2
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (NRSV)

We have here the commissioning of the disciples of Jesus Christ.  This is not the “Great Commission” we talk about at the end of Matthew’s Gospel but, it is the first time we see Jesus sending those who are his followers to do the work of healing and proclamation.

One of the biggest arguments among the various Protestant expressions of Christianity is whether our primary role as the Church of Jesus Christ is to proclaim the Gospel message of salvation or to do the good works of healing, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison.  We have gone to war over this issue.  Some denominations think that the “Social Gospel” (doing good works) takes away from the mission of salvation to which Jesus has called us, and other denominations believe that there is no Gospel but the Social Gospel.

I think this text makes it clear that it is not an either/or but a both/and.  Jesus clearly calls his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God AND to heal.  Jesus specifically gave the disciples authority over ALL demons and the ability to cure diseases and then sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God.

In Ephesians, Paul writes about our salvation coming by faith alone and not by the good works we do, but then he says, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”   We who represent Jesus on earth before he comes again are charged with both proclaiming the gospel of salvation and doing the good works that have been given to us as our way of life.

Pray with me:
God of love and God of good works, give me the strength and the ability to proclaim your kingdom as I seek to love and serve others in your name.  AMEN.

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