BY REV. LARRY NEIDERHISER - SPENCER FAMILY CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 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 those of his household. O have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (Matthew 10:24-26)
When Jesus sent the 12 disciples out to preach, he spoke pointedly about the radical difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. It was necessary for Jesus to disillusion his disciples about the likelihood that those to whom they would minister would readily accept them and their message.
Normally the disciples of Jesus could expect to be rejected and shunned. They would be like sheep among wolves and therefore must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). The disciples had to understand the radical demands that the King and Savior made on all those who would follow him. They had to be ready to stand firm when people refused the message.
The disciples had to know that identification with Christ would not make them popular with the world. The kingdom of this world and God's kingdom involve diametrically opposed loyalties. There can be no mixing of devotions. One cannot be in both kingdoms at the same time; they are mutually exclusive. It is little wonder that when people realize the full claims of Christ and rebel against him, they heap their wrath upon his ambassadors.
Diplomats cannot be thought of apart from the country they represent. They will be treated with as much respect and affection as the country they represent receives. The disciple of Christ will receive treatment similar to that which the master himself received. These words must have comforted the hearts of martyrs and persecuted Christians throughout the ages.
The opposition today may not be as bitter or seem as deadly, but Christians must ever remember that the way of Christ and the way of the world are opposed to each other. The center of one is ego while the center of the other is Christ. Two persons may do many things alike, but the basic motivation must be different.
Basic loyalty will ultimately lead clearly to a life conformed to one image or the other. We need to recognize the opposition when we agree to follow Christ. There is a price to be paid, and those who take their hand from the plow and turn back are not worthy of the kingdom of Christ. Let us pray that he will keep us faithful.