January 14, 2022
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with, and in the end, despair." — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
". . . [B]e wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 1 10:3 Some manuscripts Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus 4 Simon the Zealot, 2 10:4 Greek kananaios, meaning zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 3 10:7 Or The kingdom of heaven has come near 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, 4 10:8 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics 5 10:10 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
16 Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant 6 10:24 Or bondservant; also verse 25 above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign 7 10:25 Greek lacks will they malign those of his household.
26 So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 8 10:28 Greek Gehenna 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 9 10:29 Greek assarion, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer) And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
According to Nielsen, the average American spends over 11 hours per day watching, reading, and interacting with media. In a world filled with distractions and deceptions, how do we separate the signal from the noise? How can we better receive Christ's eternal truth and tune out the garbled static?
In today's passage, Jesus directs His disciples to:
1. travel light (Matthew 10:9).
2. be shrewd about the world, yet free from worldly entanglements (Matthew 10:16).
3. know they will be persecuted (Matthew 10:22).
4. not fear (Matthew 10:28).
5. know ultimate truth will prevail (Matthew 10:34).
Matthew 10:16 shows Jesus calling his disciples to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." In today's media-saturated age, this verse strikes a particularly strong chord. We can also see similar versions of this exhortation from Paul in Romans 16:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:20.
In reflecting on how we can apply these appeals in our own walk, consider these two media facts:
1. Instagram's algorithms are slyly designed to keep the user scrolling and interacting with the app. More scrolling means more advertisements. More advertisements mean more revenue for Instagram. As they say, if the product is free, you're the product.
2. According to research, typical people pick up their smart phone every 15 minutes or less. In half of these moments, there is no alert or notification. How could this be?
Once we put our phones down, our brains begin telling us we may be missing something. In response, our bodies release cortisol which creates anxiety. We want to get rid of the anxiety, so we check our phone. This hijacked neurological state is akin to a gambling addict on the floor of a casino.
It may sound shocking, but our phones can be fairly described as dopamine dispensing slot machines.
Yet, in Christ we can be in the world, but not of the world. Masters of our tools, not mastered by our tools. Focused on the eternal, not chasing man's approval.
May God bless our discernment as we seek and receive the grace of Christ above all else!
1. Use these basic media literacy questions to intentionally filter media messages. By increasing our media literacy skills, we can better separate truth from fiction.
Media literacy questions:
• Who created this message?
• Who paid to create and disseminate this message? Why did they create the message?
• Is there a target audience for the message?
• Are any noteworthy techniques being used to create the perception of credibility?
• What details or perspectives are left out?
• How did the message make you feel?
• How does the message attempt to persuade or influence the audience?
2. Biblical literacy question: What does Scripture say about a particular topic? Jesus, who is "the truth" (John 14:6), tells us in John 8:31-32: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."