How To Deal with the Stress of God’s Mission!
How to Deal with the Stress… Of His Mission!
Matthew 10:5a, 21-33
† In Jesus Name †
As you go out, bringing the news of God’s loving us enough to take responsibility for our lives, may you endure, knowing the grace of Christ!
There were some words I read this week by a priest that resonated deeply with me.
I am going to paraphrase them here, putting the thoughts in words that would make sense to us…
In our visits to the sick, in our administration of the sacraments, in our teaching of the catechism, and in all the rest of our priestly (pastoral) activity, we are collaborating (serving) with Christ in establishing Christian hearts. At the same time and by that same means, that is, by the work we do, the Lord is establishing and rooting our hearts in his own. (1)
What he is describing is what we are sent to do, to bring Christ to people. We all do it differently. Dane does it while going and checking on a good friend, Joanie does serves in such a way, at the Korean grocery Store, where she invited Jenny to Bible Study. It is what Rainbow does at Hope International University, and what Wanda and Kay do as they interact in the office with all who come into see them.
This is our mission, the same one that started among us when Jesus sent the twelve out to a certain group – but now sends us to the entire world.
It is the same mission, to bring the gospel, the news of the Kingdom of God coming among them, or as the pastor said, seeing “the Lord establishing and rooting our hearts in His own!”
This incredible mission is ours, but, you need to be warned, as the apostles were, it might not be the easiest…
One might read these verses in our gospel reading and wonder what you’ve gotten yourself involved in, following Jesus, hearing and trusting Him and sharing your faith with others.
I mean what is this about, breaking up families, even to the point of one handing over another to be executed. Why would people hate us? And real persecution, the kind of persecution where people zealously hunt us down and enslave or oppress us?
There are a number of temptations to dealing with such opposition.
The first is simply to be okay with their sin, to not see their sin, or ours as something we have to worry about. Christ died for all those sins, right? For jealousy and envy, for gossip and sexual immorality, for wanting to kill people, well at least with our thoughts and words, for not honoring those God placed in authority, or those who dismiss the times of rest with which God desires to bless them. Or maybe we become comfortable with people using God’s name wrongly, or even worse, with their not using it at all.
The reading of Paul’s epistle should straighten us out on that….
Don’t be slaves to sins, and don’t let others continue to dwell in spiritual death as their reward,
Don’t weaken the message of God’s mercy, by pretending we don’t need it. That will not free you from persecution. Don’t be cowed by those who would dismiss you from doing God’s work, by saying it isn’t necessary to treasure the life God has given us.
But that doesn’t give us the right to just stand up and act as jerks condemning people as sinners left and right. We can’t combat the opposition to God’s word, by getting ready to wield the rock with which to stone them. We can’t use the idea that using the Bible offensively is the best defense of the gospel.
We are called to love, and yes, sometimes to suffer, for the sake of those who need to hear of God’s love and mercy. As I heard yesterday, a basic summer of the gospel, that they know God matters, and that people matter to Him.
So how do we do this, in the face of opposition from friends and family and those that would rather not hear of their need for God, and His desire to show them all His love?
How do we deal with the stresses of the Mission that God has given us, to take His message to the world, that they would be saved?
The Key – the Relationship We Have with Jesus
If you could see the verse that precedes the bulk of our passage, you would hear how we deal with it.
19 … don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19b-20 (NLT)
How can this be? That as we focus on God, the words we speak are not ours, but those of the Holy Spirit? Who are we to speak for God, to utter not our words, but His?
We aren’t apostles, are we?
Hear verse 24 of the gospel again:
24 “Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. 25 Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names! Matthew 10:24-25 (NLT)
We are His students, His disciples, His slaves, He is our Teacher, our Master, the One into whose image the Holy Spirit is transforming us. It should be natural, the more we think about His love, the more we contemplate the cross, and realize the link their to our unity with Him in baptism, and how we testify to that death for us, as we eat His body, as we drink His precious blood in communion, that we take on His nature, That we understand His desire is that not one of the people around us would perish in Hell, but that all would come to know His love and mercy.
The very unity we have with God in Christ, will see us through any discomfort, ever persecution, even as it did Jesus as He started this mission.
We are so His, that nothing can separate us from Him, and so we should go, and do that which He has sent us to do, to preach the gospel to all creation, to do so with each of our talents, with each of our gifts, abilities, to see this as the reason we are here, even as He came to us.
For that is the greatest miracle of this, that we dwell, we find our life, as St Paul said, in Jesus.
Or as the pastor I quoted at the beginning of this wrote,
In our visits to the sick, in our administration of the sacraments, in our teaching of the catechism, and in all the rest of our priestly (pastoral) activity, we are collaborating (serving) with Christ in establishing Christian hearts. At the same time and by that same means, that is, by the work we do (in Christ), the Lord is establishing and rooting our hearts in his own. (1)
hear the last line one more time… as you go into the world to share Christ in such a way that people’s hearts are established in Christ…. Then know
At the same time and by that same means, that is, by the work we do (in Christ), the Lord is establishing and rooting our hearts in his own. (1)
Established there, we know the incredible, indescribable peace of God our Father, the peace we know in Christ… in which He guards our hearts and minds. AMEN?
(1) Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (pp. 39-40). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
Posted on June 22, 2014, in Sermons and tagged Abiding in Christ, apostolate, Christlikeness, Established in Christ, Ministry, Missional, Perseverance, Pope Francis, suffering. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.