I was reading Matthew 10.16-25 yesterday, as I slowly chew my way through that Gospel bit by bit in my daily quiet time. You’ll need to stop now, go read it, and then resume reading this if you want to be grabbed by what is said next. If you just want to read some loose, meandering thoughts with no conviction whatsoever, then just ignore scripture and keep reading. (Ha! Gotcha, huh?)
This text made me question some things that much smarter folks than I have deliberated, discussed, debated and defended for centuries. For instance:
What is to be the church’s posture toward its culture?
How do “rank and file” Christians relate to their community?
What is the best modern analogy for church-state relationships?
Are we to be mainly reclusive, inclusive, or exclusive?
Are we to engage culture and proactively attack issues, or are we to focus solely on people?
What roles should a Christian leader seek?
Is our goal as individual disciples of Christ to make more disciples of Christ, or is it the goal of the organized group of believers?
Jesus’ words about the dsiciples’ approach in Matthew 10 calls into question the approach of the church today. Was He speaking only to the 12 disciples in their first ever “mission trip?” Or do His words here have timeless application for all believers, in their cultures in all times?
“Sheep… wolves… serpents… doves…”
“Beware of men…”
“…flogged in synagogues” – indicates religious opposition to the disciples’ mission.
“…dragged before governors and kings” – indicates political opposition and even civil unrest caused by their mission.
“Brother will deliver brother…” – indicates family turmoil that is caused by the disciples’ lives.
“You will be hated by all for my name’s sake,” Jesus said. (v22)
That last statement is a convicting one for me. In our country, Christians are indeed hated, but only by certain segments of society: educational elitists, media and entertainment meisers, and political pundits. When the church is truly manifesting the love of Christ through service and relief and help, it is, at the best, overlooked by them. However, allow one minister to be scandalized or one wacky church to be identified, and it seems that undeniable proof has been discovered to disprove the legitimacy of Chrisitianity.
The attitude seems to be… “We won’t criticize them when they prove to be invaluable, but as soon as “this” (the crisis at hand) is over, they’re fair game again.”
However, on a local level… am I hated? If I’m not, why?
Jesus’ words seem to indicate that when I’m living for Him, I will encounter opposition from people on the sole basis of my faith.
Perhaps it’s an issue of speaking the truth as much as demonstrating love. You can’t have one without the other. It reminds me a lot of Randy Alcorn’s book, The Grace and Truth Paradox.
These are just Friday ramblings… So, who hates me?