How to Live the Bible — Being Shrewd and Innocent

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This is the one-hundred-forty-second lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16-20

Year after year, he was named the most admired man in America. Yet, when he made a trip to the Soviet Union in 1982, evangelist Billy Graham was castigated by the American media, political pundits, and even his fellow Christian leaders. There were even death threats. Whereas many thought that Graham was being used as a propaganda piece by the Soviets, he knew that cracking the door open would allow the gospel to be spread and the emptiness of Communist ideology could not stand. Large crowds showed up wherever Graham spoke. He had access to political leaders. His events were featured in Soviet media. All of it was controversial.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Billy Graham: 1918 — 2018]

Photo of two doves

One day Jesus sent his disciples on an unprecedented mission. These ordinary men were to go from village to village telling people that God the king was breaking into the world in a powerful new way—bringing healing and power and salvation. It would require submission. This was a message that people do not easily receive. The gospel is the one message that gives us life—but it requires us to give up our lives. Jesus tells his disciples that they will be arrested, but that God will give them the right words at the right time. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.”

Then Jesus said this strange thing: “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” This kind of shrewdness is not cunning or scheming. It’s strategic and tactical. Savvy and smart. “Innocent as doves” means pure motive, integrity, trustworthiness. Billy Graham’s ministry for decades was savvy with integrity, whether it involved innovative uses of mass media, cutting-edge organization, or stepping behind the iron curtain.

On any given day, you may sense that you’re a sheep living among wolves. It’s not a good idea for us to have a persecution complex or to whine about the world being worldly. But the gospel does clash with the status quo—and followers of Jesus will sometimes be attacked.

So we need to be savvy and innocent. To be smart and strategic about how we live and proclaim the good news of Jesus.

PONDER

What is your personal reaction to people who are antagonistic to the message of Jesus? How can you be smart with integrity as you interact with them?
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

The post How to Live the Bible — Being Shrewd and Innocent appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

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