Shunned and Disowned

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. Matthew 10:21-23

Jesus continued his directions for His disciples. It was more of an explanation than instructions. They would be going through things they may not understand.

Out of all of these explanations, family members betraying one another has to be the toughest. These are people who have known you and watched you grow and mature. They know you, often better than you know yourself.

And yet He warned the Twelve that they might betrayed by their own family members. In fact, the family members would view it as the convert betraying the family’s religion.

We see that today in the Islamic world, Orthodox Jewish community, and other religions. Parents will formally disown their children because of the new faith.

Converting to Christianity often comes at a high price for many Believers. Most of us have not experienced being ostracized to this extent, but we all know one or two who have been cut off from their families.

If that’s the case, take the time to pray for that person today. Not having family connections can be lonely and discouraging. If you’re close enough to the person, give them a call and let them know you’re praying for them.

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The Rest of the World

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:16-20

Is this passage descriptive or prescriptive? In other words, is it just a narrative or is it something we should take to heart and practice?

To those living in persecuted lands, they will tell you that it’s definitely prescriptive because they’ve said to the authorities what He told them to say and lived to tell about it.

Part of the reason we have a hard time with this passage is that we in the West don’t believe that we’ll ever be persecuted.

I read something recently that jarred me.

“The history of civilization is one of oppression. We in the West right now are the exception to the rule.”

Unfortunately, we’re not able to see beyond our ease and comfort to appreciate just how fortunate and blessed we are as a nation in America. In fact, we are sheltered from seeing how the rest of the world lives.

So, while this passage may not apply to us yet, it very well could.

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The Onus

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. Matthew 10:9-15

Jesus issued the first of many directions to those he sent out. It was a test of faith. Let others help you out because you’re doing God’s work.

The penalty for not accepting these Disciples seems harsh, doesn’t it? Worse than the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t have Jesus in their midst; these cities did. They would be judged based on that fact.

And so it goes with the world as we know it. When we share the Gospel with people and they reject it, that rejection is on them.

The responsibility, however, to tell them is on us.

Certainly we don’t all have to become itinerant evangelists or missionaries dedicated to the cause, do we? 

Many hang onto the cliche that “we are all missionaries.”

Well, not really.

Sure, we’re all called to tell those in our sphere of influence but that doesn’t mean you’re giving up your lifestyle, raising support, and jetting off to far away lands such as Irian Jaya or Lesotho. 

No, a more apt cliche is to ‘bloom where you’re planted.’

You’re where you are for a reason. You have relationships with people I have never seen or heard before. 

When the early Disciples went into the towns to preach and teach, they couldn’t preach to everybody in town. Those they did preach to were people who now had an opportunity to know Christ. The Holy Spirit drew people to the truth. 

Likewise, the Holy Spirit will draw people you know to the truth. 

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5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:5-8

Much has been written about Jesus commissioning the twelve and what they were told to do and where to go. Interesting, though, is the last sentence in this passage: “freely you have received, freely give.”

It’s an interesting phrase in light of the last 20 years on the internet. People can be very generous with sharing their knowledge of subjects ranging from gardening to nuclear science. You see it in long form posts and video teachings. It’s like they’re practicing this verse.

But this verse is especially important for Christians to practice, whether through the use of their gifts or acts of charity.

Many of us, I’m afraid take in teaching over and over and over again (I’m totally at fault here) and have forgotten or neglected to give away freely.

Contrasted to that are the givers. They give and give and give until they can give no more. Sure they’ve received but their giving far outweighs what they’ve taken in. I’ve known many pastors and compassion workers who have done that, and they burn out quickly.

Both types of people are in a dangerous spot but for different reasons.

Take some time today to assess your giving ratio.

Are you over balanced in receiving?

Are you too far the other way in your giving?

Only you know where you need to balance out if any place at all.

Freely you have received, freely give.

**While writing this post I have not even considered money or finances in terms of giving, though the principle applies. Mainly I am referring to gifts and actions.

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Another Pretty Big Deal!

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:1-2

Within this initial group of disciples were two sets of brothers, a tax collector, and someone who would eventually betray Jesus. He chose them to teach them, mentor them, and send them out to change the world.

They didn’t have standing in the world.
They probably didn’t have a lot of education.
They may not have even known what they were getting themselves into. In fact, I’m sure they didn’t know.

But He chose them and gave them authority. When the Son of God gives you authority to do something, it’s probably a pretty big deal!

As sons and daughters of God, He has given us authority in the spiritual world as well.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand…Ephesians 6:11-13

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