Monday, September 29, 2014

Matthew 10:16 -- On Being Sheep

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Matthew 10:16

Christ gave these instructions to his twelve apostles.  And on the surface, it seems pretty strange.  Why would God ask them, or us, or anyone, to be a sheep in the midst of wolves?  Is our God-given purpose to just be a tasty treat for the predators?  The answer is obviously no, but really, how does that work?  Are we supposed to convince the wolves to eat grass?
I think that this poses a real challenge for us, and I also think that it is something we face in our daily lives, and even sometimes within ourselves:  a predator staring at our white fluffiness and seeing only weakness.  It's an inherent challenge in being a follower of Christ.  We have to play by the rules and they don't, right?  We have to love, and serve, and turn the other cheek.  And sometimes even WE think that makes us weak.
Goodness doesn't make anyone weak.  It makes us confident, and strong, and faithful.  It helps us learn to rely on the Lord, to think of better solutions, like talking out our problems rather than fighting them out.  God's goodness is more powerful than any badness.  We are living in a story with a happy ending.  A story where the sheep prevail.  But, and this is important, they don't get an extended obliteration action sequence.  The sheep don't win because they have more firepower.  The sheep don't win because they trick the wolves into a bloody battle with the gore factor turned all the way up. The sheep win because they are good.  Because they are a community.  Because they live on what God provides instead of preying on the weak.  We win because we're willing to take the time and find the solutions that don't involve obliterating anyone.  God kind of likes that in his children.  Will wolves learn to eat grass?  Maybe.  Isaiah 11:6 tells us "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb," and the  next verse says that the lion learns to eat straw like the ox (Isaiah 11:7)... so, all of it definitely possible. :)  And it is something that we can work on, that we can make happen... if we are willing to be the sheep.  If we are willing to be vulnerable and open in a world where people can take advantage.  If we are willing to love despite the risk of rejection and mockery.  If we are willing to trust God even when the world around us tells us that we're fanatic and foolish.  If we are willing to reach out and share rather than retaliating.  It requires wisdom, and harmlessness.  God knows that he isn't putting us in an ideal situation... but he also knows that we can do it.  We can still win.  We can still show the wolves a better way. :)  And stop being part-time werewolves ourselves.
Today, let's remember that Good does not equal weak.  Let's be stronger than the danger and let's take the risk that God asks us to take.  To be Good even when it isn't popular.  To serve and love even when it isn't fun.  Let's change the world and be a part of something better.

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