A Target On Our Back
By: Kristen L. McNulty
Reprint rights available on request. Email the author at email@example.com.
We've all seen those commercials. You know the ones for prescription medication where after telling us that the drug can cause a long list of nasty side effects from hair loss to liver failure to even causing cancer or death, the drug company then expects us to go out and ask our doctor to pretty please prescribe it for us?
Well that's kind of what Mathew chapter 10 looks like at first glance. Jesus is about to send out His disciples to:
"Proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give." (V. 7-8)
After giving them, and us by the way, those instructions Jesus then goes into a long list of warnings.
Verse 17: you will be handed over to the local council and flogged in synagogues.
Verse 19: you will be arrested.
Verse 21: you will be betrayed by your family and maybe even killed by them.
Verse 22: you will be hated by everyone because of Me.
Jesus didn't shy away from saying it like it is: as His disciple, when we do His work and share His message, there's a good chance we are going to face persecution. We see that as our brothers and sisters in countries like Iran and North Korea are literally killed for their faith. And we see it in our own countries and lives as believers are taken to court for acting on biblical convictions, as believers are rejected by family members who take a personal insult from our faith and as people hate us because of who we stand for.
But the beauty of the Gospel is while it puts a target on our back, Jesus has put His stamp on our soul and nothing that this world can put in our way can change that!
You see Jesus might have started Matthew 10 like a drug commercial, but He didn't end it that way. Instead of closing the conversation on all side effects of sharing the Good News, He points out that facing backlash for our faithfulness isn't the worst case scenario and He points out that with Him we have nothing to fear!
"So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
As Christians the only time we have a cause for fear is if we are unfaithful in doing what God has called us to.
Our lives aren't meant to be lived like everyone else's. We know the Good News and with that wonderful gift comes the incredible responsibility of sharing it with those around us. It doesn't matter if you are poor or shy or a bad public speaker. It doesn't matter if you're older or younger or what your job title is or where you live. We all, every single one of us, are called to be proclaiming the Good News to the people God has placed in our lives and who He brings across our paths.
You don't know the words, fine, He will give them to you. You're afraid of the consequences, fine, fear is only a problem when it keeps our feet from moving or our mouths from speaking.
Jesus doesn't send us out alone. He is with us every step of the way and He will give you what you need to do what He's called you to. And if you face hardship or persecution because of it, He will take care of you!
As Jesus said at the end of this chapter in verses 29-31:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
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