As I write this, this week has been extremely difficult for the residents of Oklahoma. A large tornado wreaked devastation, injury, and death without much forewarning. Having grown up in the Mid-West, I have witnessed two tornadoes and I know the feeling of helplessness is somewhat overwhelming when one is within eye-sight. There is not much the residents of Oklahoma could have done in preparation except perhaps to build a storm-shelter, and even then that does not give full assurance of protection.
As they recover, I hope and pray there is much healing and outpouring of God’s love and mercy on those affected. I hope that the Church will take the lead in providing for those in need as God has called us to do. Tragedy as a result of natural disaster is nothing new. We can pick up the Bible and read about numerous accounts of earthquakes, pestilences, and famine on the righteous and unrighteous–a direct result of living in a fallen world. There is hope for all of us, though, and that hope is found in the birth, life, ministry, sacrifice, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus Christ. For those who know Him, these tribulations will someday become a forgotten memory.
The tragedy in Oklahoma stirs in my heart Luke 22: 35-38 where Jesus tells His disciples in verse 36, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” I’ve read several commentaries on this verse, and done my own study and here is what I take away from it: “As we go to proclaim the gospel, we should go with a lean self-sufficiency and the understanding that difficulty will come.” I believe that Jesus is saying to be prepared spiritually and physically.
For one to sell his coat and purchase a sword means giving up something that is very important (a coat to keep you warm) for something that is of even higher value (a sword that may keep you alive in dire circumstances). There is obviously a hot-button political angle to this verse in which a “sword” could mean a modern firearm, and, perhaps it does encompass that, but I believe Jesus is talking big-picture here.
The disciples respond in verse 38: “Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’” There are two scholarly perspectives on Jesus’ words, “It is enough”. One is that, “Two swords are enough” (small swords to be more accurate), and the other is that “It is enough of this conversation.” I believe He means both.
Jesus obviously allows the disciples to keep the swords, because Peter draws one on the high priest’s servant when the soldiers come to arrest Jesus. But Jesus immediately tells Peter after he slices off the servant’s ear, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52). There is an important lesson of healthy tension between the spiritual and physical in these passages.
Regent teaches a healthy view of spiritual and physical self-sufficiency. One of my very first assigned readings was Discipling the Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures by author Darrow L. Miller. . Miller explains how a theistic worldview (“The belief or system of belief in one God; sees the universe as ultimately personal”) differs from the worldviews of animism (“A set of metaphysical assumptions that see the world as ultimately spiritual, in which the physical world is animated by spirits or gods”) and secularism (“A system that sees the world as ultimately physical and limited, controlled by the blind operations of impersonal natural laws, time, and chance”) (1998, p. 285, 292).
As Christians, we are neither limited nor controlled by the spiritual or physical world, apart from God; but we face trials and tribulations in each realm. However, we are completely free and empowered in our relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ. In this relationship, we are able to be completely self-sufficient in how we operate in this world. We are given a healthy worldview that encompasses both the spiritual and the physical. It is in realizing and understanding this that we can securely go forth and successfully preach the gospel to all nations.
Miller, D. (1998). Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing.