Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Matthew 10: 16

 

Jesus knew the true character of the world that He was living in. He was aware of the poison that was hidden behind the smiles, and He was fully aware of the ancient plot that had been launched to destroy righteousness for the sake of selfish power. Jesus was warning His disciples about the sharp teeth and the claws of pain that were going to cause them suffering and grief. We need to pay attention to Christ’s words today. Pain, suffering, grief, and evil are topics that He knows a great deal about. He wasn’t speaking solely for the benefit of the handful of followers who were there then. These words of caution are also intended by Christ to be viewed as instruction for living in the same depraved culture and fallen world that He was viewing two thousand years ago. All of our scientific and intellectual advancements have done little to change the topography of spiritual battlefields. The war is still fought hand to hand by individuals who decide to sacrifice all for the sake of everything important.

 

Frankly, the image that Jesus set out here is quite odd. No military commander would send the most poorly trained and the defenseless of his troops into battle. Likewise, no business or governmental leader would rationally task a completely untrained and unskilled employee with negotiating survive-or-fail type agreements with wily adversaries. Yet Jesus does this very thing. In fact, He seems to be suggesting that we need to empty our pockets of whatever weapons we might own, and clear our minds of the strategies that we have learned over time. Christ wants us to enter into the struggle for spiritual territory with an approach to the fight that is so radical, so utterly unconventional that it might cause the opponent to die of laughter. He wants us to go about life in the same way that He did, which, by the way, was fairly successful.

 

Jesus left all of His position, power, and glory behind to join humanity as one of us. He brought a loving sincerity and an engaging relational approach to answering the issue of our separation from God. Christ entered into the shattered lives of people and engaged with the devastation that sin has brought to the Father’s exquisitely beautiful creation landscape with righteousness and truth and with the loving grace of God. Jesus is preparing us for our days of laboring in His fields by granting us the same tools of trade. Outside of Christ, we aren’t gracious, we certainly aren’t righteous, and we don’t possess truth. I think that Jesus wants us to humbly submit to Him and to His will. He is telling us to become empty and powerless in our own wisdom so that we can be filled with His perfect understanding, love, and grace. We enter the contest of the day as sheep that are totally reliant upon the shepherd. Then it is that very shepherd who protects our hearts, minds, and spirits while granting us the gift of His love, strength and wisdom to use as our primary tools in winning the world for Christ’s kingdom.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12: 4, 5

 

Unity, togetherness, and oneness are all qualities desired by humans. Yet, these are qualities of life that are hard to find. Perhaps this elusiveness is the result of the super human nature of the source of these qualities. In Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, anyone can be brought into one family. Through knowing Jesus, everyone has the right to join together as one in spirit. This is a form of unity that embraces our individuality, for uniqueness is considered to be an important aspect of the way that God, Himself, created each of us. In God’s view of our humanity, all of the gifts, talents, and skills that we possess are useful and vital. It doesn’t matter how we came to have them. They can be the result of long, hard work and study or they can be the most natural thing that we do in life. Regardless, the Lord will use the total package that we bring to life for His work and for His glory in this world.

 

The biggest obstacle that gets in the way of recognizing this truth is our own stubborn blindness to it. We tend to be too hard on others, and we are usually too hard on ourselves. Christ always sees the potential, and He always embraces the person and takes what each of us has at this time. Then, He uses whatever it is that we bring to the table and grows us into greater maturity in Him. As we mature in Christ we are better able to understand the gifts that God is giving to us. However, this understanding does not lead to the glorification of ourselves; rather, it points us to its source in Christ and to serving His kingdom.

 

Christ calls upon us to take what we have and stop spending so much time and energy on trying to sort it out or to find its perfect point of application. Then, we need to join in with others and put our skills, talents, and gifts to work. This is something that every one of us can engage; for, almost everyone is under utilizing the gifts that Christ has given to us. We also need to become less defensive and more open in the way that we view the abilities of others. In doing this we can embrace God’s viewpoint, which sees the potential, and not the obstacle. Unity, togetherness, and oneness are found through openness. Strength, protection, and accomplishment are found together in the body of Christ.