This is the fourth post in a series on our inadequacy. Read the others here.
We spend so much time with protecting ourselves, though don’t we? Comfort, or the logical end of protection, is what we chase after. It’s why we sign up for 55 hour work weeks, why we spend so much of that money we earn on recreation, alcohol, big homes and new cars. Comfort is one of the chief gods of the Western world. But this god never tells the truth. No matter how much you sacrifice in the name of comfort, we are never completely protected. Tragedy is no respecter of persons. And when it comes, and it will, we learn this:
We are inadequate to protect ourselves.
When it really comes down to it, we do not have the power in ourselves to protect ourselves. And if anything, that reality presses on the nerve of our sense of self-preservation. And when that reality does come to bear down in our lives, how do we react? Do we embrace it or attempt to ignore it?
We’ve been following a story in Luke 10 where Jesus sends 72 workers out on His mission. You can read the whole story here. What one would normally expect when reading about these rockstars of mission are tales of heroism, of intellectual giants or completely competent workers for God’s glory. What we’ve found is that they don’t have it all together, in fact, they don’t have very much together at all. Maybe these people needed Jesus as much as we do.
In verse 3, Jesus the workers as He sends them out:
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
Now, not every animal needs to fear a wolf. A bear probably doesn’t need to fear a wolf. A lion doesn’t need to fear a wolf. But we aren’t bears, are we? We’re lambs. Easy prey for a wolf. I am not an expert in sheep but I don’t think they have very many offensive or defensive weapons. Maybe other than falling in a hole or a ditch or something. And yet this is how Jesus chooses to send us out: as animals in an environment where they are could easily be eaten.
In some areas of the world, this threat is viscerally felt. There are people in countries that are hostile to Christianity, even to the point of death. There are people I know that have had to flee their home country because their lives were threatened due to them wanting to follow Jesus.
Now that’s a real danger, isn’t it? I don’t live in that kind of hostile environment. My fear is that people will think I’m strange or weird or awkward and that I will experience rejection. That’s a far cry from actually being put to death. How small our “wolves” here in the West can seem to be. But whether it’s a large wolf is some ankle biting wolf cub, we are called to go despite the danger. That means we need protection. And what exactly does Jesus say about this?
Later in verse 19:
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Who has the authority over our lives, the wolves? The snakes, the scorpions? Jesus. He has the authority and He says this: “nothing will harm you.” We might experience rejection, awkwardness, even death, but the reality is that we are always in the palm of His hand.
Because of Jesus’ love and care for us, He frees us from having to rely on our own for protection and now we get to rely on Him. Protection ultimately isn’t our job so we can stop hoarding it in our lives. If we place protection in Jesus’ hands, that means we can be freed to live bigger lives. Bigger because Jesus’ protection is ultimate: He’s the One with ultimate authority.
So we may experience rejection, awkwardness, even death, but the most important and biggest thing in our lives can’t be touched. Jesus has written our names in heaven (v. 20). That is a reality that will never change and the more we understand that reality, the more we can live out of it, the more we can experience the glory of our inadequacy and the sufficiency of Jesus.
How different would our lives look if we who follow Jesus would believe His words when He says, “nothing will harm you”?