Friday, February 29, 2008

Snakes and doves

16"Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove...
21-23"When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don't quit. Don't cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you've run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived...
26-27"Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don't hesitate to go public now.
28"Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
Matthew 10:16-28, The Message

Yeah, I want to sign up for this. This is not for sissies, not for a bunch of "girlie girls." This is not for those who desire to "make nice," who want people to like them, who are easily intimidated.

It is about truth and light and loving those people, as Christ would. It is about knowing when to pursue relentlessly in the face of huge obstacles, and when to retreat and shrug our shoulders. But never to back down. And certainly never to deny Him.

Easy to write as I sit here at my desk at church. But it is gut-wrenching to be standing in your mom's kitchen, eye to eye with her, and DOING it.

How to be like a snake and a dove? How to embrace the fine qualities of both: cunning wisdom, and also
inoffensive love? And at the same time to reject the bitter sting of the snake and the weakness of the dove?

The Message of Christ is truth, it is good news to save, but not all will recieve it. When we are rejected, it is easy to take it personally!! "I didn't do that right, at the right time, in the right way." Or, we say it is the other person, "I need to reject and give up on them, and never speak of Christ again to them because they are rejecting Him."

Maybe some of that is true. But God can use all our mistakes. He is a BIG God! We cannot mess up so bad that He cannot redeem it. And people may be rejecting His gospel today, but we should not limit the power of the Holy Spirit, Who can continue to repeat our words of truth and love to this person and make him more open to hear it again on another day.

So with the empowering of the Spirit, given to us when we embraced Christ as Lord and Savior, we have the shrewdness, the gentleness and the courage to do His work, always, with our head on His chest, hearing His heartbeat, with our hand in His, allowing Him to direct us.

It will be hard, messy, dirty, dangerous even.

But He is with us. Always. To the End.

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