As I read the account of Jesus’ journey here on earth and the principles of the kingdom of heaven were given in very clear words, I heard Him call twelve who had been listening to Him and following Him from place to place. Now He gives them an opportunity to be participants in the work of the kingdom. There is a great difference between being an observer of what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing and being involved in it. He gave them His power to do His work. They were not demanded, they were called. They were not going out to be hucksters or those who were claiming benefits for themselves. They were going to be sent as representatives of the kingdom of heaven. They knew what they were to do. They knew where they were to go and they were told how to prepare for, and carry out, their commission. The Lord was in the process of training them to be ambassadors of the kingdom.
In our service for God we are not to be free-lances without barriers and parameters in our work. There will be those who will accept our message and there will be those who oppose and reject it. Conducting ourselves in innocence and caution, and at the same time being faithful to the Lord and His word and work, calls for wisdom and planning. When we know how to approach a work and what our goal in it is, we can do that work without an offensive manner or an arrogance that turns people away from us.
Religious people will often take exception to the fact that we are not working under their auspices and leadership. There is a sectarianism that separates people into opposing groups. When we go out to speak for the Lord and serve Him alone, we are under a higher authority than man-made opinions and doctrines. There will be public ridicule from religious opposition. To retaliate in kind is counter-productive and usually results in deeper antagonism against the simplicity of the Gospel message. Do not fear that attitude nor the attempts made to humiliate you. The Lord will acknowledge you before His Father when we are willing to acknowledge Him before men. If we in some way try to disown Him before men, He will disown us before the Father. Those are fearsome words. It is an honorable thing to be able to speak for the Lord about things that are eternal.
There will be opposition to the spread of the Gospel by governments who claim to represent the people. Hostility is to be expected. We are to be sensible and prudent when that arises. It is not necessary to roll over and play dead or quit. Nor are we expected to be gullible to every unreasonable demand people in authority make. At the same time, it is wrong to be deceitful in dealing with those in authority. There is a balance to be maintained in the work to which we have been called. There is a place between being vulnerable and demanding that wisdom will guide us to when we are led by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will even provide the right words to say when we have to give an explanation as to our work and why we do what we do. Living for God will bring persecution, and persecution will bring opportunities to present the way of salvation. We can be confident when God leads us into these situations, that He has a reason for us to be in it and He can produce what He wants from it.
It is harder to face opposition from one’s family and those closest to us than any other form of opposition. To be betrayed or despised by those we love in the flesh will never be easy to take. We can never take for granted that we will be accepted by those who do not want the Gospel message, even if they are part of our earthly kindred. Standing firm to the end is not the means of salvation but it is evidence of reality in our commitment to Christ. When one is devoted to the Lord and willing to do His will in all He calls us to do, we can rest in confidence and stop worrying about the outcome of our efforts. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, then all the world will know who He is and who we have been representing. We do not need to fear the outcome of our commission because the day will come when God reveals the real proof of His kingdom. Satan’s falsehood will be exposed. Our obligation is to be faithful in what He has called us to do. There will be troubles and everyday life will take its toll on us. Through it all the Lord will sustain and maintain those who are standing for Him.
Superficial harmony isn’t the kind of peace the Lord came to bring. He does not gloss over sin. When sin is exposed there often will be real antagonism against those who present God’s truth. All conflicts will not be resolved and disagreements between believers and unbelievers is inevitable. The Lord Himself will be the One who brings lasting peace. His presence and Person is the deciding factor in our relationships. He does not encourage or demand conflict and disharmony. He was simply stating the fact that when we identify ourselves with Him and follow Him daily, conflicts will arise. Different morals, standards, goals and lifestyles do set us apart. Our first priority is to God and His kingdom. Our peace and comfort are not to be expected if we are committed to following Christ. If we hang on to what we want in this life like financial security, power and prestige, we will lose what is valuable in the next. We need to hold earthly things with a loose grasp. More important is how we respond to, and meet the needs of others.