I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves – Matthew 10:16
What a strange picture! Sheep charging in among wolves. Isn’t it usually the other way around in nature?
Yes, but Jesus reveals the supernatural power, and upside-down ways, of His kingdom by putting his children, his sheep, on the offensive. If you usually think only of Christians as being the persecuted, the martyrs, the helpless — think again. Christians, when they are persecuted, are suffering because they are storming in among the wolves to fulfill their Shepherd’s calling. The gates of hell itself, Jesus told his disciples, will not be able to withstand the onslaught of the kingdom of Christ.
Although we are promised victory in this unlikely struggle of sheep against the wolves, Jesus however also warns that we are not to be careless or reckless in our behavior. Effective insurgence will only happen when you are behaving with the wisdom and cunning of serpents, while maintaining the warmth and gentleness of doves.
We are not given a choice as to whether or not to engage the enemy: Jesus says, “I am sending you.” Neither are we given a choice of methods: Jesus says your weapons are wisdom and kindness, not cruelty or force.
Your mission is an unusual one, dear believer. You are to charge into the world, as sheep on the offensive against wolves. So your weapons will not be tooth or claw, but softness coupled with wisdom. And with these sanctified weapons, in this unlikely battle, you are promised complete victory through Jesus Christ.