Sheep Among Wolves
The Lord’s strategy to defeat religious deception and to dispel the darkness of hate and prejudice is NOT to unleash an army of sword-wielding, gun-toting zealots into the world. Quite the contrary, He is releasing a flock of defenseless sheep armed only with the gospel. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Recently I learned of a documentary on YouTube called Sheep Among Wolves. In one hour, it explores the dangers and the challenges of living as a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country. Though it’s dangerous to be a Christ-follower in those lands, believers consider it a privilege to represent the Lord Jesus, the One who gave His life for them. It is similar for our partners, especially the ones in India. They are convinced that Jesus loves the Hindus, even the radical ones. They also realize that diplomacy has some effect, but ONLY the gospel can change human hearts.
The Bible says of Christians, “You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our partners have relinquished their personal rights for safety in order to obey Jesus’ command to preach the gospel. Like a recruit surrenders his rights to the military, they have surrendered their rights to the Lord. It’s up to Him where they serve.
I don’t want to romanticize being part of the Persecuted Church. History shows that the suffering is real, “In this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:6). Jesus is the perfect example of One who suffered because He was wholly committed to doing the Father’s will.
It would be natural for Christians to fear or to hate their persecutors, but Jesus told us to love these people. The real enemy is the devil, who lurks in the darkness, whispering hatred and prejudice to anyone who will listen. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).
Jesus provides a real-life test that reveals our level of commitment. It’s not based upon where we live, but it’s based upon how we respond to unjust suffering. “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of UNJUST SUFFERING because he is conscious of God.” (1 Peter 2:19). Speaking of Jesus, Peter said, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23).
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matthew 5:10–11). Like the apostles, we should say, “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” (1 Corinthians 4:12–13)
Jesus is looking for people who will surrender their perceived rights and say with Him, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Wherever He leads us, we possess the greatest weapon known, the gospel. As harmless sheep, let’s share it with the world. “I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL, because it is the POWER OF GOD for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16).