November 19 I Friday
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves….Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.” —Matthew 10:16-17
There is a popular saying printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers that says, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” This is a nice saying. It makes us feel good to think we will be safe as long as we do what God wants. The problem is that in a physical sense, both Scripture and the history of the Christian church have proven this to be false.
After Jesus was arrested and crucified, His disciples feared for their lives. They were terrified Jewish leaders would make them the next targets for execution, so it was no surprise they fled and went into hiding. But even after seeing the resurrected Jesus, the last place the disciples wanted to go was Jerusalem, as there were people all over the city who wanted to kill them. This is what makes it so shocking when one of Jesus’s last commands to His disciples, before ascending into heaven, was, “Do not leave Jerusalem…” (Acts 1:4). The Law required them to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost or the Feast of Harvest, but we can well imagine they were hoping to spend as little time in the city as possible. Why would Jesus tell them to remain somewhere so unsafe?
Perhaps a better bumper sticker would read, “The safest place for eternity is in the center of God’s will.” Our souls are in the safest place possible when our wills and agendas are surrendered to Christ, but doing so may require going to the most dangerous places on earth. Our faith in Christ will help shield us from attacks of the devil, but it does not guarantee a life free of pain, hardship or death. This is why we find no evidence in Scripture of Jesus promising His disciples everything would be okay. In fact, He had warned them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16).
This was true then, and is still true today. The reason God so confidently sends us where it may be unsafe is because Jesus, our Good Shepherd, goes with us and He is the means to accomplish God’s purpose. When we are obedient to the will of God in a way that is counter-intuitive to our safety, we need not fear, because our security is in Christ Himself. Our Good Shepherd is with us, and we can rest assured in our dependence on Him, He will be to us what we need in the time we need it. The safest place for eternity is in the center of God’s will for us, which not only accomplishes His purpose on earth, but reaps its eternal reward in heaven.
Prayer: Lord God, give me the courage to go wherever you wish to send me. Thank You for never leaving me and for giving me peace and rest even in the most dangerous places. Thank You, Lord.