Skip to main content

Mission Possible, Part 2

Yesterday, we began looking at 8 lessons that Jesus has for us about our mission in life. We continue our study of this today with lesson #4: we need to go prepared for opposition.  Jesus said, 
Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. . . . Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

Michael Green has written, “It is bound to come. Disciples who are not being opposed from some quarter or other are in all probability not saying anything worth opposing.”

I once had an international evangelist tell me, “If you want to face opposition, just start preaching the Gospel.”

Why is that the case? You would think everyone would want to hear the message of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ. Unfortunately, not everyone does want to hear that message. To receive God’s forgiveness in Christ one must first recognize that one is a sinner and many people simply do not want to recognize that. Consequently they oppose the Gospel and those who preach it. And so we must be prepared for opposition. As someone once said, “Jesus promises us four things: peace, power, purpose and trouble!”

But there is hope for us even in the midst of opposition. Jesus' fifth lesson for us is that we can go forward in him, trusting the Spirit of God to speak through us even when opponents surround us.

Jesus says, “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

This promise doesn’t only apply to us in times when we are persecuted and under arrest. Jesus’ promise applies to us in all times when we seek to serve him in mission and evangelism.

I first started serving the Lord in ministry while I was still in high school. I taught elementary age Sunday school. And one summer I went with a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders to Indian Village, a Christian camp in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California.

As a camp counselor it was my job to lead a devotional time for the six or seven boys who were in my teepee. This took place at bed time. Consequently some of the boys fell asleep during my long-winded devotional talk. (I was in training even then to become a preacher!) But a couple of the boys didn’t fall asleep. They had one spiritual question after another. After they had exhausted all their questions and were finally asleep I thought to myself, “Where did I get all those answers?” I knew that the answers had not come from my own brain, but rather from the Holy Spirit.

I witnessed the same thing when I was on a mission to Latvia. One of the young men whom I had trained in street evangelism approached an old man on the street one day after I had finished preaching. Janis engaged the elderly gentleman in conversation and shared the Gospel with him. The man was full of questions and arguments. Pretty soon Janis was answering every one of the man’s statements. Other people were gathering around to hear what this fourteen year old boy had to say. When it was all over Janis said to me, “I don’t know where all those answers came from.”

I said, “Janis, it came from the Lord speaking through you.” Janis was overwhelmed and humbled by the experience. If we step out in faith to speak a word for the Lord he will give us the words to say.

Sixth, we can also go in confidence, knowing God is in control.

Jesus said, “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Do you know what command is repeated most often in the Bible? It is not: Behave yourself! Or: Read the Bible every morning! Or: Pray harder! Or: Give away more money! The most oft-repeated command in the Bible is the one we have in Matthew 10:26—“Do not be afraid!”

Why shouldn’t we be afraid? After all, Jesus promises that if we follow him some of us will be arrested, others will be martyred, and still others will be mocked and called all sorts of names.

Jesus says we shouldn’t be afraid because eventually everything that is now concealed will be revealed. What does this mean?

The idea of having our private thoughts, words and deeds disclosed is not a pleasant one for most of us. But what Jesus is talking about is the fact that if we keep going for him eventually our loyalty, faith, perseverance and patience will be made known to everyone.

For this reason, Jesus says, we shouldn’t be afraid of the mere human beings who oppose us. However, we should have a healthy fear of the spiritual power of evil that stands behind those who oppose the Gospel, namely Satan. Satan is the one who can destroy body and soul in hell. Therefore we should have a healthy fear of giving in to Satan’s wiles while under attack. We should have a healthy fear of compromising our confession of Christ while under persecution.

Yet, we don’t ultimately have to worry about Satan either. We can go forward in confidence serving Christ because our Father in heaven, who knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, who has the hairs on our heads numbered, counts us as more valuable than many sparrows. So we need not be afraid, despite persecution, because our heavenly Father cares for us and will ultimately vindicate us.

Seventh, we need to go for Jesus, calling for open confession of him. Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Every person whom Jesus called to follow him, he called to follow him publicly. The only exception I can think of is Nicodemus who came to Jesus under cover of darkness. Jesus told him, “You must be born again.” And Nicodemus was born again. Even though he came to Christ secretly at first, he later confessed Christ openly when he joined Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus’ body.

Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

We must confess Jesus publicly before others and call others to public confession of Christ. After all, either secrecy will destroy our discipleship or discipleship will destroy secrecy.

Finally, we must go for Jesus, putting our whole lives on the line because we are following him on the way to the cross. 

Jesus said,
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.
The Lord doesn’t want families to be divided. But he knew that ultimately allegiance to him would divide some families. It is quite often the case that families resent it when one of their members becomes a follower of Christ. Why? Because it makes the rest of the family realize their own guilt and people don’t want to recognize that.

Think of Francis of Assissi who left a wealthy home to live a simple life, imitating Jesus as best he could. Francis’ father was furious. Yet, the Lord has used Francis’ example down to this very day to inspire many others to follow Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was another who followed the way of the cross. He risked his life to be part of the resistance movement in Germany during World War II when he could have stayed comfortably in America teaching theology at a seminary. Bonhoeffer paid with his life because of his commitment to Christ. And it was Bonhoeffer who wrote, “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”

Are we willing to put Christ first in our lives, giving him priority even over our family relationships? Are we willing to take up our cross? Willing to lose our lives for Christ? Are we willing to give even a cup of cold water to the least of these in Jesus’ name?

If so, then we can claim some of the greatest promises in all of Scripture. If we lose our lives for Christ, then we will find real life indeed. If we serve the least of these in Jesus’ name then we will not lose our reward.

A number of years ago the Kingston Technology Corporation of Orange County, California informed its 523 employees they would soon receive an extra special Christmas bonus.

Kingston Technology started in its owner’s garage in 1987. Then, like many other high tech companies in those days, it saw explosive growth. Kingston became the largest provider of add-on memory boards for personal computers. Each year the company practiced a generous policy of sharing ten percent of the annual profits with its employees.

In 1996 another company bought Kingston for 1.5 billion dollars. Kingston’s owners, however, got to retain control of their company. Furthermore, the owners carried on their generous policy of the past. They divided up ten percent of their 1.5 billion dollar profit among all the employees. Bonuses were computed based upon seniority and performance. Therefore the average employee got a $75,000 bonus that year. Some received Christmas bonuses as high as $300,000.

When the story hit the national news Kingston was deluged with countless employment applications. Unfortunately, they were not hiring!

The owners of Kingston Technology believed in giving lavish rewards to their workers. So does God. On Judgment Day the Christmas bonuses at Kingston will look like peanuts compared to the heavenly rewards the Lord will shower on those who have served in his kingdom mission.

As the Scripture says,
No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9


Popular posts from this blog

C. S. Lewis on Homosexuality

Arthur Greeves
In light of recent developments in the United States on the issue of gay marriage, I thought it would be interesting to revisit what C. S. Lewis thought about homosexuality. Lewis, who died in 1963, never wrote about same-sex marriage, but he did write, occasionally, about the topic of homosexuality in general. In the following I am quoting from my book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. For detailed references and footnotes, you may obtain a copy from Amazon, your local library, or by clicking on the book cover at the right....
In Surprised by Joy, Lewis claimed that homosexuality was a vice to which he was never tempted and that he found opaque to the imagination. For this reason he refused to say anything too strongly against the pederasty that he encountered at Malvern College, where he attended school from the age of fifteen to sixteen. Lewis did not rate pederasty as the greatest evil of the school because he felt the cruelty displayed at Malver…

A Prayer at Ground Zero

Christmas Day Thought from Henri Nouwen

"I keep thinking about the Christmas scene that Anthony arranged under the altar. This probably is the most meaningful "crib" I have ever seen. Three small woodcarved figures made in India: a poor woman, a poor man, and a small child between them. The carving is simple, nearly primitive. No eyes, no ears, no mouths, just the contours of the faces. The figures are smaller than a human hand - nearly too small to attract attention at all.
"But then - a beam of light shines on the three figures and projects large shadows on the wall of the sanctuary. That says it all. The light thrown on the smallness of Mary, Joseph, and the Child projects them as large, hopeful shadows against the walls of our life and our world.
"While looking at the intimate scene we already see the first outlines of the majesty and glory they represent. While witnessing the most human of human events, I see the majesty of God appearing on the horizon of my existence. While being moved by the ge…

Sheldon Vanauken Remembered

A good crowd gathered at the White Hart Cafe in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday, February 7 for a powerpoint presentation I gave on the life and work of Sheldon Vanauken. Van, as he was known to family and friends, was best known as the author of A Severe Mercy, the autobiography of his love relationship with his wife Jean "Davy" Palmer Davis.

While living in Oxford, England in the early 1950's, Van and Davy came to faith in Christ through the influence of C. S. Lewis. Van was a professor of history and English literature at Lynchburg College from 1948 until his retirement around 1980. A Severe Mercy tells the story of Davy's death from a mysterious liver ailment in 1955 and Van's subsequent dealing with grief. Van himself died from cancer in 1996.

It was my privilege to know Van for a brief period of time during the last year of his life. However, present at the White Hart on February 7 were some who knew Van far better than I did--Floyd Newman, one of Van's…

Fact, Faith, Feeling

"Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where to get off', you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith." Mere Christianity

Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I remember seeing the graphic illustration above of what C. S. Lewis has, here, so eloquen…

C. S. Lewis Tour--London

The final two days of our C. S. Lewis Tour of Ireland & England were spent in London. Upon our arrival we enjoyed a panoramic tour of the city that included Westminster Abbey. A number of our tour participants chose to tour the inside of the Abbey where they were able to view the new C. S. Lewis plaque in Poets' Corner.

Though London was not one of Lewis' favorite places to visit, there are a number of locations associated with him. One which I have noted in my new book, In the Footsteps of C. S. Lewis, is Endsleigh Palace Hospital (25 Gordon Street, London) where Lewis recovered from his wounds received during the First World War....

Not too far away from this location is King's College, part of the University of London, located on the Strand, just off the River Thames. This is the location where Lewis gave the annual commemoration oration entitled The Inner Ring on 14 December 1944....

C. S. Lewis occasionally attended theatrical events in London. One of his favorites w…

C. S. Lewis on Church Attendance

A friend's blog written yesterday ( got me thinking about C. S. Lewis's experience of the church. I wrote this in a comment on Wes Robert's blog:
It is interesting to note that C. S. Lewis attended the same small church for over thirty years. The experience was nothing spectacular on a weekly basis. For most of those years Lewis didn't care much for the sermons; he even sat behind a pillar so that the priest would not see the expression on his face. He attended the service without music because he so disliked hymns. And he left right after holy communion was served probably because he didn't like to engage in small talk with other parishioners after the service. But that life-long obedience in the same direction shaped Lewis in a way that nothing else could.
Lewis was once asked, "Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?"
His answer was as follows: &q…

C. S. Lewis's Parish Church

The first time I visited Oxford, in 1982, the porter at Magdalen College didn't even recognize the name--C. S. Lewis. I had asked him if he could give me directions to Lewis's former home in Headington Quarry. Obviously, he could not and did not. (Directions to Lewis's former home are now much easier to obtain. Just click here for directions and to arrange a tour: The Kilns.)
Things have changed a lot since 1982. Now Lewis is remembered all around Oxford. At the pub where the Inklings met, at Magdalen College, and not least--at his parish church--Holy Trinity Headington Quarry. The first time I visited the church I only saw the outside and Lewis's grave, shared with his brother Warnie.
Since that first visit I have returned to Holy Trinity a number of times and worshiped there. Father Tom Honey is a real gem. Under his leadership the congregation has grown and now includes a number of young families. I was overwhelmed by the number of children who came into the sanctuary…

A Christmas Psalm

Psalm 110
The Lord says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms,
Chapter XII, paragraphs 4 & 5:

"We find in our Prayer Books that Psalm 110 is one of those appointed for Christmas Day. We may at first be surprised by this. There is nothing in it about peace and good-will, nothing remotely sugg…