Archive for October, 2019
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
A dove is to the birds of the air what a sheep is to the animals of the field…peaceful, harmless, and nonviolent. Between these two similar temperaments, some are surprised to find the shrewdness of a serpent as an example to be embraced. It points to the intelligence that must be exercised in our going out; to be savvy, astute, aware, street smart. Sanctuary religion is always safe. For a missional faith, however, it’s necessary to keep your head on a swivel; know where you are and what’s around you.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…” (Matthew 10:16).
Jesus well understands the kind of world into which he sends us; that we will be vulnerable. To be as sheep points to the non-violent nature of the task given; that ours is a battle not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers. Therefore, we do not embrace the political and warring methodologies of man and their quest for earthly kingdoms. While the great seals of States might contain frightening beasts such as lions, eagles, and bears; a Christian coat of arms would begin with a sheep.
“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).
Rejecting Christ is of greater consequence than the most obscene sins of these ancient cities. That some are unreceptive to the witness of your faith doesn’t mean the mission has failed. Such a response isn’t the rejection of you but the One who sent you do his work and be his presence. While we have been entrusted with a message of eternal weight, we do not answer for the decisions that others make.
“And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city” (Matthew 10:11).
The “doing” of our missional task isn’t accomplished by casting pearls before swine. The “worthy” of whom our Lord speaks are those receptive to the things of God. Not all circumstances and encounters are conducive to sharing the gospel or speaking on matters of faith. By intentionally building and fostering meaningful and trusting relationships, we develop a culture of receptiveness.
“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26).
Aiming for nothing assures that nothing will be achieved. Aim has to do with the focus of one’s life. This focus so defines one’s life that any superfluous distraction is set aside and, instead, all energy and effort is directed to the attainment of our true affection. For the follower of Christ, this means that our aim is to glorify Him in all things to which we put our hand.
“Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31c).
This admonition concludes our Lord’s teaching on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. This will not come to pass unless He leaves—He leaves; He comes. It should not go unnoticed that the life of faith is always taking you from where you are. Where we are isn’t where we should desire to stay; what we are isn’t what we should desire to be. What does the Lord have in store? There is only one way to find out—“Get up, let us go from here.”
“Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:9-10).
The pursuit of our faith and the life of discipleship isn’t to be driven by economic motives. Jesus’ words offer both a personal challenge and a call to an astute awareness. Personally, these words herald a life of simplicity; that in preparing for the life to come, we divest ourselves all the more from the holdings of this world. We must also avoid the allure of charlatans hawking the gospel as a commodity for profit; those who promote “gospel strategies” that would lead churches away from the “least of these” to more financially advantageous locations. Compelling marketing data is of absolute necessity in the for-profit business world. For the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, it is departure by his people from his people.