We have a two year old grandson (going on twenty) who has (as all children do) discovered THAT question. Why? Why? Why? On and on all day long. “Mum” tells us that she has found (as all parents do) that replying with “Because I said so” is the ONLY reply to stop the endless “why?” And as all answers (other than “Yes you can”) lead to an inevitable tantrum – they both get there faster with “Because I said so.”
We are parents. She did the same to us and we did the same to her when she was two years old.
“’See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 10:16-23
Why? Why these words …
“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
I asked if it was okay to google. He said “why … ?” 🙂
He didn’t – He said: “Okay”.
And I found that others have also struggled (“wrestled” they call it) with these words. And any one explanation is countered by another. One preference with a different preference. So the “why?” continues. We seem to get hung-up in the “why?” and then have a mini-tantrum when all roads lead to the “spiritual mystery” of: “Because I said so.”
(isn’t that what “faith” is all about – not being able to understand (and therefore prove) everything – so why am I still hung up on sentences like this?)
As one parent to another, He and I both chuckled over these realisations. Because then He flipped things. That endlessly “wrestling” with these mysteries – being “hung-up” on my NEED to squeeze clarity from every last detail … ? How often is that just a personal ego-trip (I speak from experience)?
And whilst ego-trips can be less than admirable, the bigger issue is this (I love His “practical theology” when we talk): It becomes a distraction to my hearing the voice of God – to being naked. It becomes my stumbling block to ever deepening relationship.
And having got to that point –
THEN He moved backwards into the meat of the verses. The ones which are “speaking” right now …
Persecution comes in all shapes and sizes. It is also not being listened to – being told you are wrong – being tolerated (and I think of “the church community” as much as “Gentile tourists”). It may be “ministry initiatives” which come to an end for no obvious reason.
And “fleeing” to the next also comes in all shapes and sizes. Scattering seeds by default is not seeing them root and blossom in that moment. Scattering seeds and the harvest is a “team game” – and when I stumble upon the harvest – always it will be because others scattered and moved on (or “fled”).
Burden and sacrifice? The narrow path? Persecution? All the roadblocks we put in our way for NOT enjoying this way of living and loving – for NOT making this daily living a light and joy – all the “woe is me – and you – and him over there” that we seem to chant endlessly (in a very loving and Christian way – obviously) …
This morning I set aside “Why”. This morning I heard the Word. And that is (as He promises): “The Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
This morning my “practical theology lesson” is a living lesson in the Living Word. It always is. If I allow.