The concept of the person of peace is typically applied to evangelism. The basic description of a Person of Peace is that you like them and they like you. Another way to say this is that there is a significant level of chemistry there. Building relationships with people you like to be around, and they like being around you, is a sure way to naturally share Jesus.
What about other aspects of ministry? Does the person of peace strategy have anything to say about other domains of helping people? I have been reading through the gospel of Luke and asking myself this question: how and where does the Person of Peace strategy show up in Jesus' ministry. I thought I would have to wait til about chapter 9 to get some juicy stuff on this, but Luke 4-6 actually illuminates the Person of Peace strataegy in an area I wasn't expecting.....discipleship.
I used to imagine Jesus walking along the road and seeing someone like Phillip or Judas, for the first time, and saying to them "follow Me." They suddenly entered a weird zombie like trance and dropped everything they had, and followed him.
Jesus' selection of Peter, all the way from inviting him to become a fisher of men, up to his selection as one of the 12, is actually quite the opposite. In fact, the way Jesus goes about the process of inviting Peter closer and giving him ever increasing access to his life is, according to Luke 4-6, is quite methodical.
Check this table out that highlights the process of interaction between Peter and Jesus.
This somewhat progressive, ascending pathway of moving into a formalized process of discipleship (and apostleship) with Jesus is quite instructive for anyone wanting to disciple people. If I were to break this down, I would say there are basically three components under girding this process:
This is a two way street. Not only did Peter have time to observe Jesus, Jesus had time to observe Peter. There was something about Jesus that Peter was drawn to...a certain chemistry between them. It was more than just the fact that Jesus healed Peters mother-in-law. Peter was still hanging around him after that. There was more than a transaction of resources taking place, there was chemistry there. Who knows how long it was between the healing of his mother-in-law and the Luke 5 fishing episode. However long it was, it was enough time for Jesus to notice Peter and see the potential and openness he had to becoming a follower. It was also long enough for Peter to develop an affinity for Jesus where he may have said something like "I am not totally sure who this guy is, but I would love to spend some more time around him."
If you notice, Jesus demonstrated a level of competency in an area that Peter wanted to excell in...catching fish. Part of what happens when we observe someone is that we sort of, sometimes without knowing it, size them up. One of the things that catalyzed the formation of a discipling relationship between Peter and Jesus was Jesus demonstrating a level of mastery in an area that Peter was seeking to develop in his own life...catching fish. Discipleship, if we want to take the mystery out of it, is a lot like a basketball coach working with a player to help them become a better shooter, dribbler, defender etc. When we want to excell in a particular skill or practice, we seek people out who are better than us in that area and somehow say to them "Teach me how to do what you do." This is the nature of a discipling relationship. If you want to know where you will find someone to disciple, it will be the people who have a chance to observe your life, and after observing it, they say to themselves something like this "I think I could be a better person if I hung around this person more."
If you notice, there are actually 3 invitations in the narrative. First, Peter invites Jesus into his personal space...his house. One of the signs that someone is open to you is if they invite you to move closer into one of the four spaces. Jesus knew Peter was someone he should pay attention to because he was willing to invite him closer into his personal space.
Jesus also made two invitations:
1. Don't be afraid, from now on you will catch people.
2. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.
It should be clear form Luke 6 that the twelve were not the only dudes following Jesus at the time. He actually called all the current disciples and selected 12 guys out of that larger group. So how did he make the choice? Well, this is debatable. However, it is interesting that this second invitation necessitated a second choice on their part as disciples. In Ralph Winters words, this kind of group actually constitutes a sodality, or what some might call an apostolic band of people who covenant together to go on mission. Isn't this exactly what is going on here? I think so. Jesus is selecting a team fof people to represent him in his mission (apostolos). You dont just pick anyone to represent you. For one, you only want those who are open to your vision and values. Second, you have to consider things like character, capacity, and....the one we seem to struggle with most....chemistry.
Realizing there were two invitations, one to follow, one to be trained for a specific task, is helpful because inviting people into a discipling relationship should first be preceded by a time of observation and demonstration. There should be something going on between you and the person being discipled. Where the relationship comes under more scrutiny and filtering is if you are going to be functioning as a sodality, a band of people working together as leaders for a specific mission.
Next post will look at some of the dynamics of chemistry and how to negotiate the process of selecting people to disciple.