(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Do not be afraid of them
23rd March 2013
Last time, we were reading Matthew 10:24-25:
We saw that Jesus was explaining that there will always be people who oppose the kingdom of God, and we should expect no better treatment from them than He received from them. He was slandered, falsely accused, falsely convicted, beaten and executed. Some of His followers will inevitably suffer the same things.
We who have received His grace and mercy find it baffling that anybody would want to slander and kill Jesus. But they did. And we, who only want to tell others about His goodness and the new life we can receive through repentance and faith, find it baffling that anybody would want to persecute us. But they do. It's inevitable.
The next thing Jesus says is:
Do you find that word "So" rather shocking? Jesus is saying "you will be persecuted, just as I am persecuted, so don't worry". I can't be the only person who tends to find the idea of persecution very worrying. So what did Jesus mean? I think He meant, "Persecution is inevitable. There's no point in worrying about it. Just get on with the job". For a Christian to worry about persecution makes no more sense than worrying about needing to eat or sleep or get old or die. These things will happen. There's nothing to gain by worrying:
2 Timothy 3:16
Instead of worrying, we must get out there and fulfill the Great Commission:
Although when we do so, we should also remember something Jesus said earlier in the same discourse:
Jesus continued by saying, "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known". The glorious Gospel of peace - the Good news of the kingdom of heaven - WILL be preached in all the earth. And it's our job to preach it, whether we're persecuted or not.
That, of course, is easy for me to say. The level of persecution in the UK is so low that a British Christian makes much less sacrifice than Christians in many other countries. But it's true.
There is no other way the world will hear about the atoning sacrifice, resurrection, love and power of Jesus Christ. In all the earth, there is only one channel for the Good News, and that channel is the church - us. If we've been forgiven our sins, born again, adopted as children of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and guaranteed eternal life, how can we choose not to tell others?
We need to find ways to obey Christ's command: "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs". The Good News is far too valuable for us to keep it to ourselves.