By Robert Halsey Pine
Jesus has an unusual way of commissioning us: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:7-16 NRSV).
Herein lays our challenge. As with the disciples, He is sending us “out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” Jesus wants us to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Now that’s a tough one. The two don’t seem to be compatible. That’s because we look on this from a human perspective. This is Jesus’ way of telling us that if we do as He says, He will protect us and give us peace.
We are challenged every day, whether at home, at work, in our churches or in our communities. How do we go out like sheep? After all, everywhere we turn, whether it is at home or elsewhere, someone wants to test us. “How dare they say or do that to me,” I proclaim. We have so many opportunities to choose to react in either a positive way or a negative way. As with the disciples, Jesus is asking us to go out into the big, bad world and evangelize it for Him. If we commit to this, He will protect us. For our protection He will help us “be wise as serpents” when we need to be “and innocent as doves” when need be.
Jesus tells us that “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.” Now that’s a confidence builder.
Now, are we bold enough to step out and to live our lives so as to be an example to all around us? Are we afraid of the wolves? Do we trust God to protect us? Jesus has given us authority as He did the disciples to proclaim the good news. Whatever it takes to do this, God will give it to us. This is not a “holier than thou” thing. It’s a share-the-peace-that-passes-all- understanding thing.
Heavenly Father, I pray that You give me the courage to proclaim You in all facets of my life. To share the Gospel with Your lost sheep. I pray that as I go, I will not pass someone in need to get to another. I know that all of Your sheep are important to You, Father. If I am rejected, I will not be disheartened. I will dust off my feet and proceed to a worthy house. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.