In Matthew chapter 10, we read Jesus sending out His sheepish yet hard-core company of followers into a dangerous world with the gospel and an express set of instructions that are particularly interesting – particularly interesting because He usually didn’t prescribe formulas for miracles. There was no Visa, no North Face apparel, no weekending bag picked up for a snip at T K Max – just the gospel and a heart and mouth of Spirit-drenched faith.
Fledgling in their spiritual authority, Jesus told them to speak to the houses that they entered (v12), monitor the activity of their peace (v13), find the places that were deserving of their presence and to shake the dust from their feet in protest against the places that weren’t (v14). [Related reading: The Places We Call Home]
Church, Wake Up!
Let’s have a reality check: Jesus knew that His friends would be arrested for proclaiming the absolute truth of the gospel that He was the only way to the Father. Jesus knew full-well the ramifications for exposing the multi-faceted deceit of the hydra-religion lurking in the grass. Today, the grass is a different colour but it’s growing in exactly the same soil and camouflaging exactly the same snake (1 John 4:3).
So, Jesus tells his men to beware the ferocious demon wolves in the Jewish, Gentile, and Roman communities that were set on mauling them; to enable them to be on their guard, He tells them to ensure that both innocence and shrewdness remain at the core of their mission (v17).
What does this dove/snake metaphor mean for us today as gospel-carrying, absolute-truth-proclaiming, BBC-news-watching lovers of the Lord Jesus?
Doves & Snakes
My recent blog in the wake of the Manchester terror attack (Manchester’s 23rd Body) is like that faint whiff of toast and coffee from your lazy teenage years that you used to smell from the kitchen downstairs when you were having too much sleep.
As we lay hold of this ultimate spiritual reality, of angels and demons and, once again, our spiritual, intercessory authority in Christ, I believe that the genuine, truth-telling Church of Jesus Christ is slowly waking up and venturing downstairs to explore the pantry-goodness in the kitchen of God – the coalface of the Kingdom where gospel-proclamation is the bread and butter of all our living (Phil.1:21; Gal.2:20).
Forget the trending of Islamophobia from the BBC – this is just another masquerading scheme of the devil. Consider instead the phobia of Jesus‘ Lordship and salvation, the phobias of repentance, absolute biblical truth and of morality that has fallen prey to the big, bad wolf of pluralism.
When we see our Christian Prime Minister standing, physically shaking and struggling to speak as the spear-head of Islamic community, while she pronounces fortified protection of the suddenly-at-risk Muslims, we should be seeing things for what they are – behind the scenes – as the continuing masquerading of Satan as an angel of light. (2 Cor.2:11).
Christians! We are called to worship, to prayer and to holiness (innocence) but also a new level of boldness (shrewdness) as we confront and call-out the schemes of the devil in the 21st Century. Our mission is for the glory of His Name and His Kingship but also against the very same enemy of Jesus, Peter, James and John…the spirit of the anti-Christ, the devil himself.
We must learn to pray, to fast, to intercede and to see things as they really are, not as the BBC and 10DS would have us believe.