12 Welcome Anyone Coming in the Name of the Lord
12:1 Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.
12:2 If he who comes is a transient, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be.
12:3 If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living.
12:4 But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst.
12:5 If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler. Watch that you keep away from such people.
Again, there’s some really good practical advice from this early community following The Way. Notice that the idea here is to help assist anyone who comes into the community. We’re to “receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord.” But not blindly. We’re also to “test them and use [our] discretion.” This ties right into the previous chapter.
Also note the same theme of “doing what you can” in verse 2, “Assist him as far as you’re able.” Again, we really need to remember this, especially when we’re helping other followers of Jesus. It’s been my experience that people are pushed beyond what they’re able by their pastors or priests or some other church leadership. There’s the building fund and the bake sale and the book sale and the church bizarre and the pastor’s bonus and the fundraiser for the new choir robes and then there’s the missionary that drops by with pictures and stories of starving children. And that’s just at church! There’s this unspoken pressure to give to each and everyone of these. I had one friend tell me recently how her clergy told her how much they were expecting her family to give to the building fund based on their annual giving!
Of course, work isn’t much better. There’s the United Way and the bake sale and the candle sales and the popcorn and candy sale for some parent’s child’s Christmas fundraiser for their class and we can’t forget Girl Scout Cookies! And, of course, all of those things can be brought to the attention of the church, too, in addition to all of the aforementioned things, plus loads more besides!
With all of that (on top of our bills and necessities and our own wants), I have yet to hear a pastor or priest or evangelist or “prophet” remind us to just “do what you’re able.” It’s always “give more.” We’re guilted into feeling like we love G_d less and, more disturbing, G_d loves us less if we don’t “give beyond your means. Sow ‘seeds of faith’.”
The Teaching from the small community is very consistent — “do what you can.” Not at the expense of helping others, but while helping them.
Then they give some really good guidelines about how those we’re helping should act as well. We should only help them for a few days. If it’s more than that, and they’re able, they need to work for their share. Sure, some may still need help while they’re working, but the idea is that we’re all in this together. We all have something to add to the community.
If we haven’t noticed yet, there’s nothing within the Didache that comes close to resembling the individualistic idol of American culture. It’s not about me and me alone. The Teaching is all about community; about each one doing their part in helping the whole. O, how we need to hear more of this today! The Didache is quite clear in that, while this little document is geared toward new followers of Jesus, it’s about how those new individuals are to interact within a community; within the Realm of G_d.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC