“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore, be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)
For Christian workers, one of the most significant Scripture passages is the commission the Lord gave His disciples just before sending them out on a short-term assignment. This is found in Matthew 10 and Luke 10. In Luke’s account, the commissioning takes 16 verses, but in Matthew’s, it’s a full 42 verses—so therefore, my favorite, since it’s far more helpful.
At that point, the 12 apostles were something like seminary students, preachers in training with diverse backgrounds and limited experience. (Some of us used to stand on the street corners in the French Quarter preaching. And, we roamed up and down the sidewalks with handfuls of tracts talking to strangers. We were in boot camp, learning how to talk to people about Jesus. That’s what was happening with these disciples.)
The title of this piece may cause you to raise an eyebrow. When we discuss the subject of tolerance or intolerance actions such as immorality and liberal theology tend to jump to the front of our minds. That should certainly be the case in reference to the aforementioned subjects. However, there are occasions when intolerance may burn fuel that should not be wasted.
Consider this example. In Philippians Paul discusses people who were preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry (1:15). Paul says they are preaching Christ, not with a spirit of love, but from selfish ambition in order to stir up trouble for him.
Have you ever been guilty of forcing things? This can happen with people, circumstances, projects or God’s will. I recall an experience I had while building a chain link fence. This involved one of the chain link fence post tops. The post tops are made of a soft but inflexible metal. Too much pressure and they will shatter. While constructing the fence I came to the point when I installed the tops on the metal posts. Everything went smoothly up until a point. However, one of the post tops did not readily slide onto the post. I decided to help it. I gently laid a piece of wood on the piece and struck it with a hammer. I forced it. Guess what? The piece shattered.
“Why does the Sunday school class always expect me to answer all the questions?”
“No other kids ever go to Sunday evening church, and we have to be there every pickin’ time!”
“When others talk or giggle at church events it’s normal, but when I do it I get stared at.”
“They said if I get caught messing up you’d have to resign.”
“And they said, ‘We expected better from a pastor’s child than that,’ and I’m hurt and angry and sick and tired of it. I don’t even want to be there anymore.”
Does it disturb you that God sometimes takes the path of silence? Not only is God silent, but His silence comes at the most (seemingly) inappropriate times. What are those times?
Obviously these examples are a small sampling of God’s silence.
For me, the challenge of God’s silence would be more difficult to bear had He not allowed us to sample this reality in His word. In Matt. 27:46 we find the agonizing prayer of Jesus as He hung on the cross. He felt forsaken by His Father. He felt the silence of Heaven.
Are you a person who will ask for and accept directions? It has been joked that men are not good at following directions. Some smart person said, “The reason Moses wandered in the wilderness for forty years was because he would not ask for directions.” A woman must have made that statement.
The past three years I have worked closely with pastors. I see both the good and the bad side of pastors. I love being a support and encouragement to pastors. However, one of our major drawbacks is a refusal to ask for, accept and follow directions. I realize some of this drawback is who we are as leaders. Leaders lead rather than waiting around for directions. This is a part of our DNA.
Most of the current crop of astronauts say their interest in space exploration was whetted by the television show “Star Trek,” either the original with William Shatner (Captain Kirk) or the “next generation” bunch.
A writer for a more recent televised version of these explorers who “go where no one has ever gone before” has let us in on inside information which I find fascinating.
Over forty years, the six TV series of Star Trek comprise 726 episodes. For the 198 episodes in the series this writer was part of, 155 writers — a staggering number — were employed. So much for continuity, uniformity, theme development, character consistency.