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Mental stress and Christ's protection

posted 20 Jan 2012, 06:32 by Ben@theorderoftheblacksheep.com   [ updated 21 Jan 2012, 04:18 ]
I have been thinking a lot recently about protecting the ministries with which we are charged, inevitably this stream of consciousness led to a fairly significant amount of mental stress. I was suddenly reminded of someone, Jesus. I couldn't remember where in Matthew it was but I thought I'd have a browse, and there it was staring me in the face when I got there... Matthew 10 (The Message version from verse 12 with some bits skipped out on, if you prefer a more literal, word for word translation rather than a 'reading' style translation then Biblegateway.com has all of them! =]).


"If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
"Stand up for me against world opinion and I'll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I'll cover for you?...
Forget About Yourself"What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.
"Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
"Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don't hesitate to go public now.
"Don't be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me..."
"Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
"When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they'll be mighty sorry—but it's no concern of yours now.


I know there's a whole load of preachers and teachers now who are trying to get people to recognise that following Jesus isn't all warm and cuddly so if you've switched off already, I understand. Just please switch back on again! Curiously, a lot of that discomfort teaching seems to come out of the USA which is where evangelical Christianity is probably the most institutionalised and accepted around the world. There's been a lot of words written and spoken about a certain 'celeb' preacher over the last week or so but to be fair to the guy he has shown a lot of people that discipleship pretty much requires sacrifice of some sort. Normally of the things you desire and love the most. 
But this is the point. That sacrifice is worth nothing if you can give it up easily, if ministry is easy and comes without challenges then you're probably doing it wrong. Jesus said in this passage, 'Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life - body and soul - in his hands.' 
Bullies can take many forms, they can be conscious efforts to undermine your ministry or your character, they can be the unthoughtful and selfish actions of a few agitators or they can be words written to you which are damaging to your conscience. Jesus doesn't tell us to let them walk all over us but he also doesn't tell us to grab them by the throat and give them a slap. What he does command of us is that we must not call attention to ourselves. He instructs us to be courteous and not offensive,  cunning and gentle. It is not for us to worry about these things, it is not for us to argue with people and be concerned. If their hearts are in the right place they will be open and understanding, if not they will be destructive be it consciously or sub-consciously. To shrug your shoulders and be on your way is not to dismiss the possibility of salvation for those who reject us or hurt us but rather to wait till they're ready, if they're ever ready............
In all these hard situations, look to Christ. If we look to ourselves then the focus is wrong, seek after Him and all of a sudden the hardships don't matter, the cruel words will begin to bounce off the armour with which Christ binds you and the offenses done to your ministry become offenses to Christ, not offenses to you. And He can take it.

'Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don't hesitate to go public now.'

For Today - Origin/Devastator (lyrics in description)


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