As a teenager, I failed to see the beauty of boundaries, repeatedly pushing against any restriction my parents or teachers established. I bear the scars to prove it!
Every outstanding leader honors and recognizes the indisputable importance of parameters on their leadership and with those they lead. Loving parents establish appropriate lines of protection around their children. These fences — sometimes visible, often invisible — keep what is harmful at bay while provided the greatest liberty.
Jesus trained world-changing leaders to follow behind Him. We witness His boundary-establishing techniques at the beginning of their ministry experiences.
“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
I may have been born in the wrong generation, on the wrong continent, of the wrong gender to take part in the exploits of this group, but my heart cries, “My too!” I long to see a day when hospital wards completely empty, with every disease and sickness brought down. I’m not alone in praying for God to remove the deceptive and deadly claws of the enemy from those we deeply love and care.
“Yes, Lord! Grant us the same authority!”
The Greek word exesti, translated here as authority, means “privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, or delegated influence.” We consider authority to mean the power to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience in others. Biblical authority contains a broader meaning within the beauty of boundaries — boundaries, Jesus clearly articulated.
Do Not Go
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.”
Do you see it? Immediately, Jesus set the parameter of their movement. Jesus never conferred authority upon His disciples as a blank cheque to be executed wherever or however they desired.
Power and authority, like intoxicating wine, changes people. Usually to their detriment! But with proper boundaries, that same power and authority becomes mighty in the hands of ordinary men and women.
Multitudes in need awaited the disciples throughout the vast territory before them. The magnitude of the mission, without the beauty of boundaries Jesus established, might otherwise have overwhelmed them. If they or we over-extend ourselves, the immensity of the task incapacitates us, rendering us ineffective.
Jesus scaled back their focus to one people group in one specific area. Within that parameter, they possessed the authority of Christ to function liberally, bringing healing and freedom to those they encountered.
When they clearly understood the “Don’t go!” Jesus then released them to “Go!”
“Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Galilee embodied as much multiculturalism as any nation today. God loves each one completely and uniquely.
As a former farmer/rancher, I understand only a fragment of the heart of the Good Shepherd here. If I noticed an animal from a neighbor’s herd in need, I quickly contacted the neighbor and offered help. But if one of my own animals fell into danger, became ill, or went missing, I immediately amped all efforts. The care and concern for my herd far exceeded that for my neighbor’s.
Jesus, the Great Shepherd, desired to minister first to His sheep, “the lost sheep of Israel.” Lost sheep encounter many deadly dangers. Time is of the essence!
As You Go
Jesus gave not only a “do not go” and a “go” instruction, but He also added important details to an “as you do” directive.
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
First, He called them to present the message and purpose of their authority clearly! God desires that everything we say and do points others to the “kingdom of heaven.” Jesus gave the disciples authority to point the lost sheep homeward to the waiting arms of the loving Father.
Second, supernatural signs and wonders emphasized and validated the message. God had been calling His sheep home for decades. They had grown deaf to His voice. Jesus knew meeting human need through miracles would have dramatic effect, awakening them to their deeper spiritual needs.
Beauty of Boundaries
When we stop resisting the fences of protection and provision God establishes, we discover the true beauty of boundaries. It has taken me far too long, but I’m realizing that the more I respect and honor the boundaries God has placed around my life, the more empowered I become to declare His grace.
God’s impartation of authority continues through all generations. God still moves with divine power, healing the sick, casting out demons, and even raising the dead through the submitted hearts and hands of those who intentionally walk within His boundaries.
Freely, they live among us, declaring God’s love and grace. Liberally, they move with supernatural power and authority. Those who hunger and thirst for the things of God are being filled, empowered, and sent out.
Weekly, I hear people witness to God’s healing and deliverance in their lives.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
“Lord, forgive us for resisting your parameters of influence. Turn our hearts in surrender to your ways. Release in and through your faithful followers divine authority and power to speak and move within the beauty of boundaries, as Your instruments of healing, redemption, and deliverance. Let it be!