In today’s reading, Jesus reminds and enumerates the challenges of our mission and how we are going to face them. He reminds the apostles that the work they are to do is not a playing ground. The work or mission is full of challenges.
Therefore, going through today’s readings is also an opener that the mission God gives to us is full of challenges.
Our mission to touch souls, convert sinners, influence and change the world can never be easy. It is never an easy journey.
In this mission, the world will always stand against you. Many people may be against you, and some may not understand what you do.
Today, Jesus tells His apostles; remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves”.
It means that the field is full of people who will persecute and fight them. Some will be envious of them. Therefore, Jesus tells them what to do when they face these kinds of challenges.
The Truths and Challenges of the Mission.
The gospel of today is a continuation from that of yesterday. Today, Jesus reveals to His disciples what they are going to face in the field.
Remember that the Jews believed that the Messiah who is to come is political. The One who will save them from oppression. These disciples once asked Jesus when the kingdom will be restored to them (Acts 1:6).
So, they may be thinking that the work is a bed of roses. But Jesus is gradually revealing to them that being His disciples is like being a sheep among wolves living in the world.
It is a mission where many will not agree with you while many will fight and attack you. Therefore, whenever we face such challenges on our way, let us not lose hope or begin to live in worry.
They will drag You.
Today, Jesus tells His followers; beware of men: they will hand you over to Sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans”.
Therefore, the challenges of the mission are not without persecution. It is a field they may encounter attacks from the political leaders and those who feel threatened by what the apostles would do.
In essence, in serving God wholeheartedly, many who feel threatened by what you do may fight you. Some will use their high positions to crush you to the ground.
In summary, amid that thing you want to do for God, you may encounter persecution, betrayals, insults, imprisonment, trials, accusations and hatred etc., despite all these, Jesus says, be calm and innocent.
Family Persecution and Hatred.
Take a critical look at some people who are hated today and persecuted by their families. You will discover it is either they do not agree with the negative and evil decisions of the other people or that they do not want to live the way others live.
So many Christians are hated and persecuted for nothing in their different families. The reason could be because they speak and stand on the truth always, or that others see them as a threat to what they do.
So, if you are undergoing either of these in your family, Jesus reminds you today what you shall face in your mission.
He says, “Brother will betray brother even to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. Men will hate you on account of my name”.
It is a reminder that what we stand for can bring hatred from others who don’t believe what we believe and the people who do not like what we do.
How To Face The Challenges.
1.First of all, Jesus says: “so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves”.
The word “cunning” means to be crafty. It means knowing what you want and then using a formless way to get it. Here, wisdom is indispensable.
Amid the challenges, Jesus advises His followers to be clever. We need to think before we act or say anything. We need wisdom for this journey. Therefore, the mission is full of challenges, but we must be wise to go through them.
So, the way to undergo persecution is not to fight back and let people know that you are a tiger, but when you face challenges, do not come out to let people know that you are ready to fight them. Do not offend anyone, but at the same time, use your brain and get what you want. Appear harmless but be wise. Therefore, wisdom is indispensable in the time of challenges.
2.Secondly, Jesus says, “You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you”.
Therefore, the time of these challenges is not a time to fear. It is not the time to worry but the moment to show how strong our faith in God is. Jesus expects us to use this time and bear witness to Him.
Therefore, we are to be on guard and use any ugly experience we encounter in the mission to bear witness to Jesus. It may be so hard, but it is not an experience that will get us depressed, but to stand firm as the early apostles did.
3. Despite the challenges, Jesus advises his disciples not to be afraid but to remain close to God. What to do or what to say must be given to us, for the work is not ours. God who uses us will always speak through us. He says, “for it is not you who will speak but the Spirit of the Father in you”. It is a sign that what God needs from us is simply being available for the work.
4. Jesus also says, “Men will hate you on account of my name, but the man who stands firm to the end will achieve eternal reward”.
Therefore, despite that the mission is full of challenges, let us always stand firm and persevere.
The mission is full of challenges of its own. In essence, the gospel is neither a place of enjoyment nor comfort but the other way round.
There are troubles, contradictions followers of Jesus may pass through for His sake and the gospel. But we have to stand firm and persevere to the end.
In this mission, Jesus did not promise his disciples an easy journey. It is work that may bring hatred and jealousy. So, whenever you are passing through these, do not feel depressed.
The only promise we will not like to miss is this “whoever stands firm to the end will receive salvation”. So keep going and believing in God.
May God bless you and give us the grace to stand firm against challenges, persecutions and difficulties. Amen.