“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves… do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." MATTHEW 10:16-23
I'll never forget my first day of work as the pastor of graceway church. I had just finished grad school, so my head was filled with all kinds of knowledge and new ideas. I had moved to Charlotte to do what I had always dreamed of doing… to live out the call that I believe God has placed on my life. But that first day I remember sitting in my office thinking, "What have I gotten myself in to? Where do I begin? Everything is on the line here, and I have absolutely no idea what I am doing!" The doubt and fear was really pretty overwhelming. It still is from time to time if I am being honest. It's the classic case of the evil one hitting in the place where I am often most vulnerable — my identity. How could you start a church? You are not outgoing enough. You don't have enough experience. You won't have enough resources. The clever thing about how the evil one works is that much of what he claims to be true… actually is. I am an introvert, so there are times when I am not very outgoing. I am not very experienced, so I make big mistakes. We are trying to get this church off the ground in a time where our larger church (the ELCA) is going through significant transition — not to mention the economic crisis, so resources sometimes seem sparse. In this test the disciples have come to a point in their relationship with Jesus that they are being sent out to do what Jesus has taught them to do… to live how he has taught them to live… to proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven has come near and I can imagine that as they were preparing to move forward with this call they were hit with many of the same kind of doubts and fears. Jesus — fully aware of this — simply acknowledges this right up front. He says, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…" Jesus knows that he is sending his friends out to do something that by themselves they cannot do. But fortunately he doesn't send them out by themselves. Instead he reminds them who they are. He goes through a whole list of things that will happen — making it clear that what they are about to do will not be easy — but he reassures them by saying, "…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of YOUR FATHER speaking through you." He reminds the disciples that they are children of the Father… the one who created the universe… the one who spoke and all things were made. Because they have been made one with Jesus they have been made one with the Father which is all the authority they needed. Sure, what the evil one says about me is true. By myself I am not qualified to do what it is that I am trying to do. But I am not in this thing alone. I am my Father's son, and as hard as this is, that is all the authority that I need. The Spirit of the Father living in me gives me all that I need to carry out the work that he has called me to do.
Jesus, because you are alive in me, today I claim my identity as a son of the Father. Help me to claim your authority and proclaim this day that your Kingdom has come near!