Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as snakes and harmless [innocent and gentle] as doves.” In this passage, Jesus is talking to his twelve disciples. He tells them they will suffer persecution, but the reason they’re going is to be a testimony [for Jesus], particularly in the councils and the synagogues, before governors and kings. Some versions say “to be a testimony against them.” This is the beginning of the apostles “going out to preach the Gospel.” (At first it’s only to the people of Israel; but later, unto all the world.) Some people think this was just for the apostles, or just for the Christians in the First Century. But I always think this passage is applicable to us, the Christians who are alive on the earth today. It is especially evident when you think of all the Christians in Asia and elsewhere, who are under persecution from Muslim, Communist and other totalitarian regimes. We really are like sheep among wolves; and we really must be as clever as snakes, and as gentle as doves, just in order to survive and continue to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus.
I read literature from ‘Voice of the Martyrs’ organization, which supports persecuted Christians in foreign lands, and their reports are shocking but inspiring about how Christians are faithful, in the face of persecution, torture and even death. They are staying true to Jesus, and their numbers are growing, not just in spite of persecution, but because of it. Muslims are turning from their own religion and turning to Jesus, because they have seen the steadfast faith of the Christians in the face of persecution, and they have realized how different Christianity is from Islam. Could it be this is what this passage is talking about? Was Jesus foretelling us and our time in these verses? Could be, when you consider that the Muslims have come to America and are pushing to assert sharia law in their neighborhoods, and elsewhere. Are we ready to stand as a testimony against them?
Looks like we’re in for a long stretch of persecution, even if this is not Armageddon as prophesied of in the Bible. To survive it and thrive, we must be willing, and able, to stay close to Jesus, to stay fully surrendered to Him, to stay unified in the Spirit with God and the sisters and brothers of the Body. Total dependence on God is the only way we can continue to live in Jesus and have His Word abide in us, so we can be as wise as serpents (snakes) and as harmless, innocent and gentle as doves.