Extending the boundary 4. The Cost
Key Text: Matthew 10:32-42
Over the last three weeks we have engaged the possibility that God want to use you more. He desires for you to be effective in His kingdom and that He is calling us to greater things than we find ourselves in now.
Essentially He wants us to be more and do more; as a church as well as individually.
What we haven’t covered yet is the inherent cost that this will bring to us. I have established that it will be scary to step out and do great things for God. It will take our all. But what needs to be addressed is that when we do; there will be opposition.
You see we are taking a stand and the problem about standing up for something is that it creates enemies.
In the words of Winston Churchill:
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
So this week we will seethat if we stand for God and allow Him to do a work in our lives that cause growth; that we push the boundaries in our lives and do more for Him; there will be a cost; a backlash from people and the Spiritual realm.
Jesus Talks about this in Matthew 10:32-42. The interesting thing about this passage is how many of the anti-religious jump on this verse to “prove” that Christianity has at the core of its teaching violence. That Jesus taught hate and justified violence. Let’s read and then discover what this passage is actually saying;
32“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
34“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.35For I have come to turn
“ ‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’c
37“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
40“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.41Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
So let’s ask the Question;
Prince of Peace or Prince of the Sword?
Was Jesus advocating violence against others in this passage? I mean His own words are “I have come to bring the sword.”
We have to ask this question in the larger scope of the revealed life of Christ and then in terms of the teachings of Scripture. Then we will see that even in the context there is no hope of this passage being able to be interpreted for violence.
The first thing we have to see is that Christ never carried a sword nor condoned violence ever; the only time that this is ever contradicted is when Jesus enters the temple. But even there the violence is defensive as He is protecting the Temple from corruption and blood was not shed.
SecondlyJesus never condoned violence from His followers; we see this when Peter cuts off the Roman Soldier’s ear; Jesus condemns His actions and heals the man strait away.
Add to this the overriding testimony of the New Testament that calls us to peace and non-violence.
So the question has to be asked what is Jesus trying to say here; He is not advocating the violent actions of His follows. No He is warning them of the violence that will be met out to them from the world into which they are going.
Many times in the Gospels Jesus warns His disciples of the hardships that are coming to them because they belong to Him. As one man said Jesus never promised us an easy life; in fact He promised us the complete opposite.
In this life you will face many hardships, you will be hated because of me, you will be despised and rejected, you will be dragged before “Kings and officials beaten, mocked, rejected.
The life of faith is a life of opposition and the question must be asked why? Does Jesus call us to be the kind of people that people hate; you know those one who you can’t get along with?
No! you see the Gospel automatically creates within the world…
Two camps: Those for Jesus and those against.
The essential reality is that there are only two camps; those for God and those against.
John 3:19 says this best where John says;
19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
The truth of the Gospel forces us to stand up for truth because the truth that we stand for is so important; the problem with standing up for something is that it creates enemies. Those who love their darkness will not sit idly by while we speak the truth; because the truth exposes their darkness and therefore they will bring the sword to defend their darkness.
I believe this is a human reality but even more so it is spiritual reality that creates a physically reality. As most of you know and as Scripture clearly reveals this world we see; this physical realm is not the only realm; there is a Spiritual realm that I would argue is even more real than this reality that affects the reality that we find ourselves in.
And I believe as we take a stand for the things of God and become effective for His kingdom so the demonic world revolts against our advances.
Why; because we are encroaching into their kingdom. Do not be misled church; Satan knows when we are making ground and he will come against us when we do.
There is always a cost to following Christ. The story of Acts illustrates this for us so well it says in Acts 19:11-17
11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We[a] exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered[b]them, and prevailed against them,[c] so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
When we make ground for the Kingdom of God; when we are effective for God; the demons know about it. The thing about this is that we are not left hopeless in this church; but rather our God fights on our behalf and we though prayer lift each other up. But there will be a cost.
You see the call on God for our life is to stand up for what we believe to be convicted. A man/woman with conviction is an offensive thing to a world where anything goes. This is why there will be a cost to our conviction.
Let us remember if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before His Father in heaven, however if we deny Him before men He will deny us before His Father in heaven.
The call is on us to be counted for what we believe, the cost is that there will be both physical and spiritual opposition.
So what can we do to ensure we endure to the end. Well Scripture gives us two helps;
Through the epistles there are calls to stand together; to encourage one another and to build one another up in the Lord.
The reality is that we need each other to stand up to that which will come against us. God has given each of us to each other to help us cope with what they world will throw at us so we must stand together.
This is why we gather and fellowship; this is why we encourage a coffee time; this is all so that we can lean on each other and grow together and learn to depend on each other so that when opposition comes we have a home to go to and people to lean on.
Not only this but church we must:
Hopefully I have made it obvious that the main opposition that we will face is spiritual in nature; therefore we must fight it in a spiritual way. Church we must pray together; we must lift each other up; and we must fight against the spiritual dynamics through prayer.
Sadly this is things that we do not commit ourselves to readily.
Charles Spurgeon had a weekly Wednesday night Prayer meeting in the Metropolitan Tabernacle church which was said to be more attended than the Sunday services; He called them the war room. And I love that name for the prayer meeting; for it is on our knees that we set the pace for the work that we achieve for the Lord.
Just as in the war rooms of men strategies are drawn up and counsels made in order to decide and discern the best action for the war. We too need this corporate as well as individual seeking of God’s counsel in order to informed and effective in the battle that God calls us to.
So church there will be a cost but there will be joy and hope.
I challenge us to count the cost and put in place the measure we need in order to survive the onslaught of opposition that will come our way if we are to be effective for God in our world.