By, Isam Itson III
Matthew 16:1 and 4 – And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. Jesus answered them,.. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.
Over the years I have learned that every comment someone makes in casual conversation is not casual. You say hello to someone in line at the store or while waiting for public transport and they state their opinion or ask you what you think about some current event. You give an honest response and then…they pounce. The next thing you know your heart is racing and you are in a heated argument. Your day is ruined. Followers of Jesus Christ who want to honor God and encourage other people to honor God are especially vulnerable to people who have an agenda against the authority or existence of God.
It is very tempting to want to defend our trust in God against every accusation. And followers of Jesus Christ are often asked to prove the supremacy and exclusivity of Christ to those who reject him as God. Sometimes people ask honest questions about our relationship with God or the nature of the Bible, or why we do the things we do. They may have even been taken advantage of or deceived by someone who claimed to be a follower of Jesus Christ. In this case we should be prepared to respond gently, simply, honestly, and openly with them. They truly want justice, accountability for the wrongdoer, and wisdom from God.
Other times we run into people that want to question us. This is different from asking honest questions. There are people who have a personal agenda against the authority of God or church leadership. They want to make a case for their rejection of God, or encourage other people to follow them. These are opponents of the gospel of the kingdom of God.
Often our opponents will bait us in an effort to stir up our anger, or expose our ignorance, supposed irrationality, and self interest. They want to prove their superiority to themselves and others. They want to prove that their rejection of God or the church is honest and legitimate. They want other people to back their personal agenda. And they don’t mind using us to fulfill their self-serving desires.
Jesus essentially told his opponents that they had already been given enough signs. They had witnessed his miracles and heard his teachings. They had seen his concern for the poor and outcast. There was nothing left except for his death and resurrection to confirm their need for salvation. Jesus was simply going to fulfill the work that he had been born to accomplish; sacrificing himself for the salvation of his people from their sins.
Sometimes it becomes clear that people who ask us questions are really just questioning us in an attempt to accuse us of wrongdoing. They don’t want answers; they want ammunition to justify their rejection of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, we have to know that any such accusation is really just a distraction. The enemy of our souls wants us to spend our time and energy on empty arguments rather than fulfilling the work of God. Jesus reminds us of the necessity to keep loving God, and honoring God’s love for others. Our best reply is fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.
1. Recall the last thing that you know God directed you to pursue in your life.
2. Identify the steps that you can take toward the fulfillment of God’s direction for you.
3. Pray and trust God to provide what is necessary for the fulfillment of his purpose for you.
4. Surround yourself with people who embrace the call of God in their lives.
5. Do not be distracted by naysayers when you know you have heard from God.