Proceed with Cleverness
“Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” – Matthew 10:16
The taxi driver refused to go any farther. My family’s neighborhood in Caracas had a bad reputation and if I was going to make it back home then I had to walk the rest of the way. It was a route I had walked plenty of times before, but now, under the cover of night and laced with the cabbie’s fear, the route felt like a hostile environment. I nervously recounted the tips I had learned from my family about navigating the streets: walk purposefully, keep your head up and your gaze fixed, avoid shadows and be smart.
When Jesus sent out the disciples in Matthew 10 he gave them tips and instructions for their journey. Included with his guidance came the famous line, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” They were being sent into a less than friendly environment. Religious authorities would abuse them because of the beliefs they proclaimed. Political authorities would arrest them on the pretense that the disciples were disturbing the peace. The disciples had to be careful, vigilant, and clever because they were living in dangerous times.
And in a way, so are we.
That which threatens the soul of the church is not the sledgehammer from the outside but seductions from within. It can be dangerous to pour oneself so deeply into work that relationships with loved ones starve. It can be dangerous to slip into indifference when the problems of the world seem too big to deal with. It can be dangerous to avoid healthy conversations in favor of keeping the peace.
Each new day holds the danger that we would be distracted from our calling to proclaim good news, offer healing, and share freely.
In order to remain focused on their goal, Jesus encourages his disciples, “…be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
If we too want to journey purposefully, focused on our goal, and all the while avoiding modern day dangers, then let us listen to Christ’s call. Let us reflect on what it means to be clever as we make our way in faith.