The content of the Gospel Message…the Good News of Jesus doesn’t change. What does change when you share it with others is the context and circumstances surrounding it. When people see you going through difficult times with grace and peace…they’ll be very curious. They’ll be watching you and wondering where you get your strength and hope. It’s then that you can share the Gospel Message through your personal struggle… which can only have an tremendously powerful impact on the listener.
Early in this Chapter, God tests Abraham by demanding his son of promise, Issac. God was refining Abraham’s character by commanding his loyalty and charging him to live in obedience. Anytime God tests us it’s for our ultimate benefit and good. Testing and sacrifice are just part of our journey towards self-discipline and holiness. Sacrifice is offering back to God the only thing I have to give… a love-gift of myself…of giving the best I have to the One I love the most.
Angels of the Lord had warned Lot and his family of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah… and to flee and not look back. But even with the warning…Lot’s wife still turned back towards what once had been her life and lost it. Jesus also reminds us of this in Luke 17:32, when He told His disciples, “Don’t go back.” So why are we so prone to do exactly what the Lord tells us not to? When our fear of the unknown outweighs our faith in God…we go back. And when anxiety supersedes what we know in our heart to be true, our mind goes back to familiar coping mechanisms…allowing fear to crowd out our confidence in God.
When Jesus spoke of man’s corrupt, sinful nature He always addressed it in its ultimate result. For example, Jesus never warned us that we must not covet because it might lead to stealing…He said rather, You must not covet because it is stealing. The same goes for all the fleshly appetites and passions that come from our human nature. If you think it – Jesus says you’ve already done it in your heart…from lust to murder. For anytime we allow fantasy to fill our mind instead of truth, our flesh is winning.
The work Jesus Christ did here on earth was not some clandestine secretive mission. Rather, everything He said and did was pretty much done in the public eye. Was He ridiculed and rejected for it…Yes. Was He snubbed and scorned by the people…Yes. Was He misunderstood and mocked often…Yes. But Jesus persevered with boldness and authority…never backing down from fear of man. These Scriptures encourage us to claim that same fearlessness and courage so as to not hide our light under a bushel.
To be a Christian in the world today is to be like a lamb among the wolves. We’re bombarded by carnality, violence, and deception everywhere we look. This is why Jesus directed His disciples to go out into the world using practical common sense…and using wisdom to maintain a pure ethical character no matter who or what they encountered. But nor were they to be gullible and naive in their worldly interactions. As Believers, we too are called to a Godly influence in the world…but not be influenced and so seduced by it.
In all our lives we will go through darkness…not the kind caused by sin or disobedience…but darkness that comes out of fear and confusion in this broken world. But while we are crouched down in the Valley of Despair, we need to listen…for the Lord will be speaking life-bringing truths into our soul. Precious truths of encouragement, and exhortation that will sustain us during illness, pain, and loss. Isaiah 50:10 tells us, ” Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”