Matthew 10:16-31 The Message
“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
“Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.
“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.
“A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?
“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.
“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.”
It is not always easy to give reasons for the hope we have. They called our Master “Dungface,” so they’ll certainly call us worse. But it is all well worth it in the end; our God cares what happens to us. And though our hearts will ache, as does his, when we see the wicked grow wickeder and lost harder their hearts, we must continue to love, to pray, to hope—and to witness no matter what the cost.
Antoinette Brown (1825-1921), the first woman to be ordained in modern history, clung to Christian orthodoxy while her dear friend, Lucy Stone (1818-1893), drifted into transcendentalism. Antoinette’s love for Lucy never waned, although she was pained by her friend’s rejection of Christianity. She maintained her witness despite the pain.
I believe my heart never was so full of love before…I do love you dearest Lucy better than ever but I sometimes think of you just as I used to think of my brother Addy—that he was going wrong, all wrong & it makes me feel sad. You don’t think it even right to pray, that it is wicked & sinful for an enlightened mind at least, & is mockery to God. You don’t believe in an overruling Providence.
Well, Lucy, say what you do believe candidly & honestly & believe with true honesty of heart & we’ll all love you just as well but take care that you are not like those we read of in Hebrew yesterday, “blind people that had eyes.” How I do wish I could see you & talk with you but it cannot be now…
…O Lucy, weigh the matter well before you take such a stand. O I do want to see you. Our views were different enough when you were here but they are widening all the time & if you do believe as I have just supposed you did, your God & mine are as different as our views & as far apart as the East from the West. Surely dear dear Lucy this cannot be. I must have misinterpreted your views. Write & tell me what you do believe on those points…
…With much love your own sister,
-Antoinette Brown (1825-1921) From Oberlin College, March 25, 1849