Time to get in the game!

Daily Readings: Genesis 27-28, Psalm 12, Matthew 10

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” –Matthew 10:32-33

I love great sports movies. They can be incredibly inspirational. There is always that moment in every sports movie when it is time to come together as a team to accomplish something great. The coach brings the team in and delivers a speech that propels the team to victory. Matthew 10 is that moment for the 12 disciples. Up until this point they have been following Jesus, learning from him, and observing miracle after miracle. Now it is their turn to get into the game. Jesus is sending them out!

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” 

I can picture the scene in the movie now as Jesus delivers his talk. The disciples are filled with excitement, but also nervous jitters. The camera pans around the group showing the smiles and also the apprehensive looks they give to one another. “Can we really do this?”

And like any great sports movie speech, Jesus needed to lay out for his team that the odds were stacked against them. Everyone would be expecting them to fail. They would face non-stop adversity along the way.

However, what Jesus laid out was not an ordinary set of consequences. It wasn’t simply, “If we lose today, we will lose knowing that we gave it everything that we had! We will lose knowing we gave it our absolute best, and in my book that makes us winners!”

Instead Jesus warned his disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. You will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Do not be afraid of them, for 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.”

The stakes were so much higher. Go back and read Matthew 10 all the way through and picture it through this lens. Try to imagine being there yourself with the disciples as Jesus inspires the twelve and tells them it is their time to get in the game.

I am so thankful to have the opportunity to live in a country where, despite all of our flaws as a nation, I can be open about my faith. There are still many places around the world where the consequences for being caught sharing your faith by the authorities is exactly what Jesus described. People are beaten, imprisoned, and martyred. And yet there are still faithful disciples of Jesus in those countries boldly proclaiming the good news.

There are challenges here as well. We will still be occasionally hated for telling others about Christ. There will still, from time to time, be mother turned against daughter, father turned against son, and friendships that are lost because of our faith. We are still sent out as sheep among wolves. But Jesus is still standing in the center of the team at halftime. He is still there saying, “I need you. I am sending you out. It is your turn to get in the game. I have impacted your life and the lives of so many others that you know. Now go be a blessing to others!”

I want to be in the game.

Thought to ponder

What holds me back currently from being bold with my faith?

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