In Matthew 10:5-25, Jesus sends out His disciples to teach about God’s kingdom, and gives them some crazy instructions. Don’t take any extra clothes, don’t take any money, depend on the kindness of others. If people won’t listen, don’t stress it but move on. You’ll be beat and arrested, and people will betray you. But don’t worry.

WHAT??! This is His pep talk before they take on their first mission? Are you serious? What in the world is going on?

Honestly, I’m not completely sure. Jesus is up to something, but it doesn’t make sense. Why tell them all of this stuff? Is He trying to scare them to death? To weed out the weaklings? To run off those who are uncommitted? Does it just stink if you obey God? Is obedience this constant drag of pain and suffering, so accept it and move on? It sure reads like that.

But that doesn’t fit with how Christ lives. He lived a life that was mixture of joy and pain, rejection and amazing fruit. He calls us to be like Him. So why the words of dread and darkness?

I think He knows how weak we are, how selfish we are, and how we want to use Him to get our own way. He knows that we will go in Jesus name, claim to speak His words, and expect to be loved and rewarded for it. He’s burning those thoughts out of our heads. We don’t obey God to get power, prestige, or influence. We obey God because He’s God. That’s enough. Even when no one else may seem to be with us, He is.

I have a hard time with this. I want life to be smooth when I’m obedient. I want things to go well when I’m serving at full speed. But those things are tied together at all.

Will I still serve, regardless of the outcome? That is our calling.