Is it worth it? Many Soldiers I've known who have had combat experience have asked themselves or their buddies that question. When the bullets are whizzing by and the noise of the mortars, helicopters, and other battle sounds have elevated stress levels to their absolute peak, is it worth it? When you have a ceremony honoring a fallen comrade, is it worth it? Love of country. Health and retirement benefits. "Thanks for your service." When those you love are in air conditioning, and you are melting in a 120-degree sandbox, is it worth it? When you're driving down Hometown, USA, and every piece of roadside trash causes fear and trembling, is it worth putting yourself in harm's way for a country that seems to be spiraling? There are always those who would say, "No. Not even close." Yet, others salute with hooks or balance on magic legs and affirm with tears in their eyes that everything they gave was worth their sacrifices? Why? What motivates someone who has come face-to-face with fear and the fragility of life to say, "I would make the choice, again." I believe their answer comes from knowing in their depths what suffering might ensue if freedom dies. That fear drives them and gives them the sense of urgency. Love is why they wear the uniform, but fear of something worse than their own death keeps them fighting.
Matthew's account of our Lord emphasizes Jesus' role as king, and not just over the Jews. Jesus' authority extends to all of creation. The winds and waves obey Him. Sickness, demons, and even death cannot defy His commands. He can feed an army with a boy's lunch, and His word shuts the mouths of the learned perverters of God's law.
He is king.
Matthew 10 concerns Jesus sending His subjects into a hostile world that has expressed its animosity toward Him on numerous occasions. He does not mince words in painting a picture of the reception they will receive. Sheep among wolves, floggings, death. He gave His followers orders, then He led the charge, calling them to fall in behind Him, whatever may come. They were Soldiers facing a rage-fueled enemy on a potentially bloody battlefield. Without question that is a fear-inducing situation. So, with all the danger facing the followers of the king-the-world-rejected, what motivation did our Lord give to encourage the called to face their fear and to keep on His directed path?
He gave perspective. It is a far more fearful proposition to fall into the hands of the living God than to lose one’s physical life.
Therefore, hold fast to kingdom principles. Keep on proclaiming His word. Speak truth into the lives of those around you. Love your people well. Stand firm in your allegiance to the King of kings. Trust that the Almighty values you and will honor your sacrifice. Keep on fighting, because what we do in the service to our King is greater than ourselves. Trust Him completely because He has fought the fight Himself. Stand in confidence before your enemies knowing that they can only wound the body and that God preserves the spirit and rewards the sacrifice.
Let us commit this verse to our hearts and minds as we follow our King through this world of wolves.