JESUS IS SMARTER THAN US: PART 3
What are the vital energies fueling the spread of God's relentless reign of life-changing love in a culture bent on acting from religious hate and oppressive power?
In Jesus' directions to the 12 and the 72 (see Part 1 for the biblical references), we will consider the next to last energy: danger.
Danger. Please read these texts: "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. ... 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. 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. ... 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. ... 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. ... a person's enemies will be the members of his own household. ...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. "
Note that this is all part of the instructions to the Twelve in establishing outposts of the kingdom of God (see Matthew 10. The instructions end in Matt. 11:1).
Jesus is a realist. His Father's kingdom radically, yet subversively exposes the evil of human kingdoms and opposes their use of dehumanizing power, whether in the forms of fanatical, fundamentalistic religions (Judaistic factions of the 1st century) or politico-economic-military control (empirial Rome).
Compassionate demonstrations of God's life-changing love that turns upside down and strips naked the ways of the world creates very hostile opposition. "The king has no clothes on." And the kings of this world do not like being made aware of their psychic nakedness being seen by all. They cover themselves with leaves and spout, "What is this malarky about 'the last shall be first and the first last' and 'whoever wants to be great, head-honcho, 'lord' must be servant and slave of all' ? Get real."
Kingdom loyalties divide families and turns sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers into little Judas Iscariots, ready to betray one another because of the danger of being outed as a Jesus-follower. Tribunals and courts and drive-by shootings will join hands to stop this embarrassing unmasking of worldly power and control. Blood will be shed.
Google "the persecuted church." Jesus' words are as accurate today as they were in his own era. I wonder if the reason the church in America is so "blessed" to not be persecuted is because rather than confronting the dehumanizing powers that be with "the Jesus Way," we have nestled up to the powers that be and begged, "Keep us safe and keep us secure and keep us fed and entertained and keep us comfortable and keep us narcotically consuming all that you market to us with no conscience whatsoever for the poor of the world"? We know for a fact that our King exposed all the earthly powers to open shame at the cross, exposing them for the sham they are. But Jesus' words in Matthew 10 about the message of the kingdom of God messing up things for us, even our families, here in the good old U.S. of A? No, we adamantly will have none that.
Next: the last energy--the power of the kingdom to catalyze deep commitment to Jesus and his Way even in the face of danger.