In Luke 17:32, Jesus speaks about total commitment, about faith that endures no matter what. From the same account, Matthew writes in detail what Jesus was asking for. Both passages go beyond the ‘nice life’ many Christians speak of.
Jesus’ words seem to describe what is happening today. All over the world, but particularly in the Middle East, believers are being persecuted and dying because they name Jesus as Savior and Lord. And Jesus calls them as He called His disciples to great endurance.
As I read the following long passage, I thought of my petty complaints, desire for comfort and convenience, and how little I’ve suffered because I believe in Jesus. Should the city we are in right now suddenly declare Christianity illegal and punishable by death, would I endure to the end? Can I pass the tests? Or would I wind up a pillar of salt?
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 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. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 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 say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.“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.“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 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. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 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. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:16-39)
Jesus, this is more than a poke in the ribs. It is a deep challenge to deeper faith. Many of Your people are living the reality of what You described so many years ago. They are forced to flee their homes, or are arrested, or even killed because they have a faith that endures. I’m not going to ask You to test me like that, but I am asking that You increase my faith and help me to be less concerned about my own life and more concerned to trust You with everything, big or small. Teach and enable me to glorify You.