Brothers, Sisters, Family,
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!”
As Christians, we are called out. We are called to be different. Reread the passage above. Take a moment and do it. What is Jesus saying? What type of picture is He painting? What is His worldview? Many times we paint an incorrect view of Jesus Christ. We portray Him as comfortable with the world, in the world. Friends and family, it is not the case. Jesus spoke hard truths. He has hard words. Those who wished to hear, whose hearts were drawn responded. Those who didn’t were enraged, put off, wanted to hear little of what He had to say. Jesus knew that. His message everywhere was divisive. In this particular passage He characterizes the world around the apostles as being full of wolves. He represents the gospel message they were called to preach in the preceding passage as cause for rage, a cause for men and women to cry out against each other, a reason for slander, calling for judgment, calling even for death. Jesus said these things because He knew them personally. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” This was Jesus’ life. When He told the people the “good news” they wanted to throw stones at Him, they wanted to throw Him off a cliff. They would follow so long as He spoke smooth words and provided them with food and miracles of healing. Ultimately, within His life on earth, many of those who followed Him would walk away confused and disappointed and those who hated him would, after plotting and seeking His death for quite some time, find a way to bring Him down to death by crucifixion. Would we as followers, if we looked like Jesus, spoke like Jesus, lived like Jesus expect any different?
I ask this question because in this country we are thankful that we don’t suffer for our faith but, we do so as we bend our knee to those who say we shouldn’t share our faith and keep mum about it. We are thankful that only the media truly hates us but not the average person as we walk out a silent faith that lives but does not speak a message with open words. As disciples, just as the apostles in this passage, we have been called to deliver a specific message. So few times have I truly delivered it! So often when sharing I’m met with my own fears and anxieties. Brothers and sisters, it should not be so! When I have it’s been a joy to speak words of truth, hope and life. We are called to confidence. We are called to “come what may.” We are called to trust that the Holy Spirit will provide and sustain and that we who endure will be saved. We are called to live separate, to be bold, to be witnesses, not just with our life but in our words. What is our witness? What is our proclamation? We proclaim that those who do not believe will perish (John 3:16), those who do not repent and believe in Jesus Christ are condemned already (John 3:18). We are called to proclaim there is freedom, hope and salvation in no other name but that of Jesus Christ. These are Jesus’ own words. He spoke them straight away to men and women, in open crowds of listeners because He cared for their souls and their eternal destination.
This year, will this be the year we truly begin to share this message, clearly, bravely, openly, trusting the Lord come what may? I pray that this will be the year I personally see many begin to come to salvation, many brought in but I realize that this will not come without a price. Jesus paid the ultimate price, am I willing to, as a servant before my master take on the same?