“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Matthew 10:26-31 ESV)
Three times in today’s passage Jesus tells His twelve apostles not to be afraid. He was just about to send them out on their own for the first time to spread His message of forgiveness. But before doing so He had warned them that they would face opposition.
Jesus’ words were not only applicable to this first training mission, but to all His subsequent followers throughout history who bring His message to the world. Opposition to Jesus has existed since He walked this earth. This is because His teachings go against what the world values. For that reason persecution of Christians is a given until He returns.
But no matter what we endure – even if it is covered (hidden from the rest of the world) it will be revealed. It will be known. Maybe not by other men, but definitely by God. While we do know of some persecution going on around the world against Christians in places like Iraq and Syria, I’d guess we know only a small percentage of what is really happening. But God sees 100% of it.
Rather than fear other human beings who can do no more than kill the body we should fear God who can also destroy the soul by sending a person to hell. As fearful as dying might be – especially as the result of direct persecution – that is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.
The worst thing that can happen to a person is dying without having their sins forgiven. Such a person is ineligible to enter heaven and will have to spend eternity separated from God. We call that hell. Certainly the prospect of spending eternity in hell is to be feared much more than dying on this earth.
And while going through tough times on earth might lead us to think that God does not care about us, nothing could be further from the truth. God cares for us even more than He cares for sparrows which sell two for a penny.
God notices when one of them falls to the ground. The Greek word for “fall” here does not mean death. It means to land on the ground. God notices everything a sparrow does, even when it does something as routine as landing on the ground. God knows every detail of these sparrows lives.
He knows every detail about our lives too, even details we don’t know like how many hairs are on our head. If even these mundane details are noticed by God how much more so does He notice when His children go through persecution.
We can be sure that God sees all the ridicule, all the beheadings, all the suffering. He’s keeping notes. And while He’s willing to forgive anyone who commits these heinous acts, He will hold people accountable who don’t seek forgiveness.
The scales of eternal justice are currently uneven. But some day they will be in balance. God will make sure of it.
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