Christ teaches us to strive to live peaceably with all men. However, he does so knowing we will be disturbing to most.
In Matthew 4-9, Jesus calls twelve men to specially be with him. They are to be graced, humbled, encouraged, amazed, and sculpted by him. They are his disciples. They are his workers sent out to reap the Lord’s harvest.
In Matthew 10, Jesus sends them out on their maiden ministry voyages. In groups of two they are to visit the northern cities of Israel. They are to …
- Proclaim the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven (vs. 7)
- Heal the sick (vs. 8)
- Raise the dead (vs. 8)
- Cleanse lepers (vs. 8)
- Cast out demons (vs. 8)
- Be known for giving grace and not receiving funds (vs. 8-9)
- Warmly greet in the name of the Lord (vs. 12)
- Pass the peace (vs. 13)
- Be innocent as doves (vs. 16)
- Speak that which the Father gives them to say (vs. 19-20)
- Show tangible love like giving cold water to children (vs. 42)
However, as they ministered as “innocent doves” for Jesus and for their neighbors, the were be “wise as serpents.” Though they were to strive to live peacefully with all men, they were to know disturbance lay around the bend. They were to expect …
- Certain households would respond in an unworthy fashion (vs. 13)
- Many would not receive them (vs. 14)
- Many would not listen to their teaching (vs. 14)
- Religious opposition would come from church leaders (vs. 17)
- Legal opposition would come from the state (vs. 18)
- To receive physical persecution (vs. 17)
- To see familial schism and divorce (vs. 21)
- To see executions based upon Christ (vs. 21)
- To be hated because of Christ (vs. 22)
- To be persecuted and forced to flee (vs. 23)
Jesus taught them, bottom line,
Do not think I have comets bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
Therefore my worshiping friends, how ought we to live and do church today? The answer is graciously and peacefully. Christ is encouraging us to be courteous and not contentious. This is true in our homes, in our churches, on the streets, in our boardrooms, on our ballfields, in our political rallies, and throughout our social media posts. As possible, let us live in peace with every man. (Romans 12:18)
And what should we expect? We should expect much hatred. Try as we might to pass the peace, we will most likely reap the whirlwind. As the tender and loving Christ was abhorred, so too will we be. Let us not be surprised, and may we never compromise or alter our message of love, grace, reconciliation, peace, hope, and righteousness.
But remember this, Christ would also have us expect a great harvest. As he was doing then, so he is doing today — he is winsomely and sovereignly calling his own and building his church. Nothing can stop him — not weak disciples or wicked antagonists. The gates of hell shall not prevail. Jesus and his mission of peace can be disturbed, but it cannot be stopped. So let us die, that others might live.