Of snakes and doves - Hope 103.2

Of snakes and doves

By David ReayMonday 24 Mar 2014LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 10:16-20

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 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,20 for it will not be you speaking,but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (NIV)

If you occasionally have an identity crisis as a Christian,take comfort-blame Jesus! Here he wants us to be sheep,snakes and doves. If you occasionally wonder at the ups and downs of life,again trace it back to Jesus. Here he warns us we will be attacked for following him and encourages us not to worry at all because he has it all in hand. All part of the rich complexity and mystery of the Christian life!

Sheep are not naturally fierce creatures able to defend themselves against the like of wolves. Never mind,these particular sheep have a good shepherd who eats wolves for breakfast. And these sheep aren’t to be stupid either. Trusting in Jesus doesn’t mean kissing our brains goodbye and becoming pious neuters,taken for a ride by all and sundry. Our minds are good gifts from God and aren’t to be put into hibernation in the name of faith. Then again,we are not to slide over into deceitful manipulation and rely on our own native cunning to get by. We get a reputation not for naivety but for purity of life. We are neither fools nor felons.

Thus balanced,we can handle what others might throw at us. So often,we become anxious that something may happen in the future that will be beyond our ability to handle. This is true in one sense: it may be beyond us. But that doesn’t mean it is beyond God. Jesus’ promises his first followers help in standing up for themselves in times of persecution. The promise can be extended to all of us who follow him and wonder if we will be equal to whatever tasks lie before us. The Holy Spirit will be on hand to help. We will not be abandoned to fend for ourselves. Yet his help will come when required,not necessarily beforehand. Faith sometimes seems hard because we are encouraged to step out and assume help is coming rather than step out only when the help materialises.

If we are under attack,we have no need to fear what others will do to us. Our words will come from God himself,not out of our fears or our naivety or our cleverness. There are many who might judge us or condemn us or seek to harm us. There is One who reminds us that he is stronger,that he is the shepherd of the sheep,the keeper of the snake,the protector of the dove.

David Reay