Beta Testing

In Elizabeth Givens, Sermon Spillover, Soul Food on October 10, 2011 by The Spillover

Thanks to Elizabeth Givens we have this awesome “Sunday recap” and warm insight:

Wikipedia, that great source of information, says: “Beta testing comes after alpha testing and can beconsidered a form of external user acceptance testing…”

Yesterday morning Dave Riddle spoke on Jesus beta testing of his newly formed discipleship team, sending them out on their first assignment. The backstory is that in Luke 6 Jesus calls the twelve out of a larger group and designates them as “apostles” or sent ones. It was such an important selection process that Jesus spent the entire previous night in prayer. We may look at the twelve disciples and think Jesus could have done better on some of those guys, but his selection was God-driven, and God-given.

What is a disciple? It is a person who is WITH Jesus to become LIKE Jesus in order to be SENT by Jesus – that is when a disciple becomes an apostle. It is intentional, it is life changing, and it is demanding.

These men had already been with Jesus, and were learning how to be like Jesus. Then comes the beta test and we jumped to Luke 9. Jesus called together the twelve and gave them the total package – “power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He told them to take nothing on this first trip, but to rely totally on God’s ability to pick and choose who would accept their message, where they would live, what they would eat, and how God’s power would be demonstrated.

I appreciated the emphasis Dave put on the telling and healing, and his reminder that the church tends to lean toward one or the other, but rarely does both well. If a church focuses on healing – social injustice, hunger, disease, poverty – it gets labeled as preaching a social gospel. If it focuses on telling everyone about the Kingdom of God – evangelism – it gets labeled as too traditional and not in step with today’s needs. Jesus commanded his disciples to do BOTH, to co-join telling and healing, to be sure that God’s authority and power was demonstrated in changed hearts and changed lives.

When the disciples returned (Luke 9:10) they reported to Jesus on everything they had done. I’m thinking they had a praise service and they all got to tell their story and listen to what the others had seen, heard, experienced. They probably learned a lot from each other. I can see Jesus sitting at the side listening, instructing, pouring his wisdom into their growing experience.

Then they slipped away quietly to Bethsaida – and even though they were followed and Jesus welcomed those who followed, the disciples and Jesus took a break before they launched past the beta test.

My take-away this morning was personal. I pondered who I am discipling. Who am I inviting to share life with me? How do I connect with them? How do I speak into their lives? Do I balance telling and healing, and how well do I do that? Like a plane, I need both wings.

It was good to be at Calvary this morning. With our travel schedule, we only hit about half the Sundays in a year, and I was glad to be home. Last Sunday I worshiped in a small Japanese language congregation in Hawaii. I understood very little of the service, but I was blessed by the warmth and love of the people.

What most impressed me though, was the man speaking. A Japanese American, Yokichi is 80. He retired from working in Japan at least 15 years ago, but he’s never stopped being a sent one. He spoke from memory because he is legally blind. Sermon preparation takes him a long time. But he doesn’t just do the telling – he’s out on the streets daily helping people, running in marathons to make new friends, listening, and praying. A little microcosm of Japanese speakers live in this small Hawaiian city, and Yokichi and his wife are there to tell and to heal.

When I am 80, I want to still be telling and healing. Beta testing long past. Full function in place.

3 Responses to “Beta Testing”

  1. “It is intentional, it is life changing, and it is demanding”. AMEN.

  2. Good stuff, Mom. Thanks for sharing. Now I have to think about those two parts a little more as well….

  3. Welcome Home! Yokichi…amazing! Thank you for sharing!!

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