Lying for the Kingdom?

The other night at our Middle School gatherings we engaged in a difficult text. Matthew 10:16, you probably know it… “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

The Canturbury Psalter, Adam and Eve and the Mushroom of Knowledge, 1147 CE
The Canturbury Psalter, Adam and Eve and the Mushroom of Knowledge, 1147 CE

I posed the question on our leader sheet, "is it ever ok to lie?"

The idea of the serpent being an example for us is pretty tricky business.

The Sheep and the doves is easy but the snake. A snake as an example… tricky! My leaders were pretty uncomfortable with the idea that I might be suggesting that it maybe ok to lie or be tricky / crafty / deceitful in the pursuit of Jesus and his kingdom.

I talked about the principle of first things. Letting the scripture inform our understanding of scripture. But with that in mind we turn to Genesis 3 and find a pretty negative image of the snake. Layers and layers of tricky.

My goal for this lesson was to start to get our students and leaders to think about the mission God is sending us on. How this mission is difficult and Jesus is giving us the freedom to do whatever it takes to participate with him in advancing his kingdom. It’s not about being good boys and girls but it’s about being agents of King Jesus in a foreign land. A Jesus who was mocked and crucified for not following the rules and for stirring revolution in the land. We often want to say Jesus is innocent. But to be honest, he was guilty! Innocent of sin, yes. Guilty of talking to a samaritan women, healing on the sabbath and just about every other charge against him, yep, guilty. That’s our example!

The hinge for me is around verse 19 when Jesus instructions his revolutionary followers to not be anxious. They don’t have to worry or be anxious because they are filled with the Spirit of God who will lead them, guide them and inform them on how to do this tricky business of living on mission in the world - sometimes as a sneaky snake, sometimes as a peacekeeping dove and most of the time as a little of both.

The hinge is that they (all of us) must be connected to God the father, the Son and the Spirit in order to effectively live out this mission. It’s not as simple as “Do not lie.” But we find our fullness in the mission of God when we follow Jesus and are filled with his Spirit in the messiness of his mission in a dangerous land.

Remember Jesus! Essentially what he is saying in Matthew 10 is that we should expect what happened to him to happen to us. And in order to effectively be on mission with him we mush be connected to him and be following him step by step.

John Wesley said, “Holiness (living like Jesus) is moment by moment.”

Tricky business. Amen