Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sent into Battle
Wow. Reading through chapter 10 of Matthew isn't really the kind of stuff that a content middle-class Midwestern American boy wants to hear.
Jesus' warning to the troops as he sends them out kind of reminds me of a locker room pep talk before a big game--you know, the kind of speech the coach gives when you're the underdog and are going to get slaughtered.
Actually, it might be more like the what you may have heard as the Spartans battled at Thermopylae. The warriors knew they were greatly outnumbered and knew they would probably die in battle, but knew that their deaths would not be in vain if they could hold on and stop the advance of the Persian army. They fought with their king and for their king. They left their families behind. They were revered by their countrymen; respected and despised by their enemies. They did not fear death, but welcomed it if it came while defending their country, their king and their loved ones. In the end, they were defeated by information that was given to their enemies by a traitor.
Keep this scenario in mind as you read through chapter 10. Listen to what Jesus says about what the disciples will encounter.
They will go out among their countrymen (the Jews). They will be betrayed by their own families. They will be persecuted by the enemies of their king. They will be called on to give their lives.
Those that receive them and care for them will be blessed. Those that don't will receive harsh judgment.
Jesus warns them not to be reckless, but to be wise. He tells them to guard themselves from men that would betray them. He reminds them that there are many that hate him, so many will hate them. He tells them to tell the truth and proclaim it boldly.
He tells them not to fear persecution or death on Earth, but to fear the Father in heaven who has power over our eternal souls.
And Jesus reminds us that the truth will divide families against one another.
Yes, the truth divides. It divides families, and it divides nations. But the Bible tells us that our citizenship is not of this world. We are travelers in this life, in this world. Our home is in heaven. This is a battleground...and we are at war.
Unfortunately, this is not our mindset. Our guard is down. Our armor is on the shelf. Our enemies don't even know that they are our enemies or that we are warriors because we have been away from the battle for too long. We have made friends with the enemies of God and have become traitors to the cause of Jesus.
It seems that we all want to be diplomats and nobody wants to be a warrior. We want to talk the talk (when it won't get us in trouble) but walking the walk is for somebody else.
Jesus sends us so that others will call on God the Father. The Bible asks, "How can they call on on one they don't believe in? And how can they believe in one that they've never heard of? How can they hear if nobody tells them? And who will tell them if nobody has been sent to tell them?" (John's paraphrase of Romans 10:14-15)
Time to get dressed for the battle. Fight a good fight today.