For those of you who have already given your life to Jesus Christ, you know that he is our shepherd, and we are his flock of sheep; correct? We are meant to follow the teachings, lifestyle, and example Jesus laid out for us, but, what if I told you that we are meant to do so much more than that? What if I told you that we weren't meant to live as sheep alone, that we were meant to go on to become shepherds ourselves; in a manner of speaking.
I was reading out of the Gospel of Matthew today, chapter 10 specifically, where Jesus instructs his disciples on what they should teach, what to expect, and who to teach to. First, Jesus blessed them with the authority to cast out evil spirits and heal all kinds of disease and illness; then instructed them to tell the Jews that the Kingdom of Heaven was near and Christ would only accept those who followed him. In addition, the disciples were instructed to take almost nothing with them: no money, extra bags, clothing, sandals, or even a walking stick; but they should not hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. In addition, Jesus warned them that they should expect to be persecuted for who they followed and taught about, and not to be surprised if they're beaten, arrested, and possibly killed.
Now, you may have had a question pop into your head, why would Jesus tell them to instruct only the Jews about Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven drawing near? God chose the nation of Israel, specifically the Jews, to go out and instruct the rest of the world about Him. It's not that salvation is reserved only for them, forgiveness and eternal life is offered to everyone, God just selected them as His chosen people to carry this message to the ends of the earth. Another misconception is that Jews are already saved and will be allowed into Heaven regardless of what they do, this is not true, everyone must accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In regard to what Jesus instructed them not to take, the principle is that they were to go out ready for duty and travel, without being weighed down by extra material things.
Why would Jesus tell his disciples that they would, more times than not, face this kind of persecution and suffering? Well, look at it this way, if you were given a specific job to carry out by traveling all over the world teaching, what would you do in a bad situation such as being beaten? More likely than not you'd throw your hands up in surrender and quit right? By warning these men, Jesus gave them faith that what they were doing was correct and that they were on the right path. The basic teaching is this, the message that was to be delivered was more important than the suffering that would be experienced as a result of it. Those who are of this earth can only damage the body, they cannot harm our spirit, only God has this power and He loves us above all other life on this planet.
Just as Jesus instructed his twelve disciples about what to teach and what to expect, so too did the disciples impart these teachings to others after the resurrection of Christ. In the same manner, we too are called to share the gospel with others, how to instruct others, and what to expect because of their beliefs. Have you ever seen the Lion King, the principle sort of follows one of the teachings in the movie called "The Circle of Life"; when we become Christians we should share the Good News we've learned with others, instruct those who accept it to do the same, and tell them what to expect from others. We're not called to simply accept Christ as our Savior and spend the rest of our days awaiting his return, we're called to get out and share this News with as many people as we can. Everyone is a child of God, one of His sheep, and like a shepherd, we are meant to lead them to the Father.
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