Jesus calls twelve disciples to enter into his leadership academy. (It turns out, Oprah was not the first to hand select from the disadvantaged in effort to change the world.)  He gives them instruction for how to conduct themselves, how to live a life of mission.

“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake , inoffensive as a dove.

-not sure why this word is used in many of our translations. Serpents themselves  would in fact have been thought of as cunning. The Greek word for “serpent” used here was “ophis” which has it’s roots in a word that means “sharpness of vision”. While the word “wise” shows up too, “cunning” I think was added along the way by definition of serpent. I don’t think Jesus was saying to be deceptive and manipulative. Although that would explain why there are leaders within the Christian ranks that think it o.k. to be so. Today, I’m going with be as a snake – wise and sharp in vision. This also makes some statement to me about making yourself vulnerable. Let’s be wise, making our presence known but no reason to go looking for trouble, putting ourselves out there just for the sake of adventure. It sounds like trouble will find us – we need not go looking. Being inoffensive as a dove – peaceful, attentive, desiring no harm to anyone. I don’t believe we need to expound on that much further. We are to consider carefully our actions toward people, that it is not our actions that are offensive and that our intentions are never of judgment or harm.

Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.

Don’t be surprised when you best effort is not received well. Oh that this could be our first response – to look from a Kingdom perspective, and not our own. I am in a new season of trusting the Holy Spirit and I am constantly fighting the reliance on my own cleverness – maybe if I were smarter, if I studied more, if…

“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.

This one I am still meditating on. This may have to remain a rhetorical as we reflect on the rejections that we have faced.  “not some idol that makes them feel good” – what are the idols we run up against today?

“It is not success you are after in such times but survival”  Wait, this does not sound like the “American Dream”!

Matthew 10:16-22

So, anyone out there who has not already, want to sign up for duty?!