To many of us look around this world and see the ascendancy of evil men and evil schemes and become overwhelmed. If we live our lives by what we see on the news through the internet and TV, it can intimidate us into shrinking away from our great commission responsibilities. It seems as if this world is out to eat us alive. Perhaps this is why Jesus described mission to his disciples as going out as sheep among wolves. It’s certainly often the way I feel, and I live in America. Imagine if you were in a country where Christianity was outlawed, like first and second century Rome.
When Jesus sent his apostles on mission, he sent them out with a whole discourse of instruction and encouragement. As I see it, there are at least seven good reasons not to fear evil as we think of our responsibility in the great commission.
1. We go with the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 9:35). The gospel writers consistently show that the Kingdom of Christ has broken into this world as the all-conquering kingdom. When we are a part of this kingdom, we are a part of a kingdom that has overcome all evil, sent Satan hurtling from heaven, and defeated the god of this world. The good news of the kingdom is that people can come into right relationship with God and be on the winning side. While we await the final consummation, we can know that every Christian already has the victory that Jesus has won in establishing his kingdom on earth and sealing that victory in the work of the cross.
2. If we think that this world is too much for the gospel to overcome, we need to believe God when he says that he actually has a harvest out there. Jesus says to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more workers for the expansion of his kingdom (9:37-38). From this we can take away that there are no forces that can withhold God from his saving power and reaping his harvest. We can also know that if Christ commands us to pray for more laborers in this harvest, he would not ask for something that God would refuse to supply. So, pray.
3. Jesus has established his church by his unlimited authority. The authority of Christ spans beyond humanity, to creation itself, and the very forces of the spiritual realm. It is a comprehensive scope of authority. The authoritative power of Christ was given to his apostles on mission as they were given power over demons and diseases. These men then gave us the gospels and the New Testament (10:1). We don’t have the same specific outworking of this authority that was displayed in the apostles as they founded the church, but this authority has been vested in the gospels and New Testament letters that they wrote. When we go out with the gospel, we go out with the very authority of Christ.
4. We are never meant to think we can overcome every person with the gospel. That’s not how it works. Not everyone will respond to the gospel but only those that God calls to respond in repentance and faith. The apostles were told to go in and out of houses in Galilee and preach indiscriminately to all. If they met refusal and opposition they were to leave and move on knowing that unless these people repent, they would most certainly face ultimate judgment that is God’s alone to bring. (10:14-15). God seeks us to be obedient to his call and is ultimately concerned about our faithfulness. The result is his alone and therefore we need not worry about evil winning.
5. Yes, the opposition is fierce, but as the Christian perseveres through it, there is much greater reward for us. We are to keep going as we remind ourselves that persevering faith is saving faith (10:22).
6. Even if we were to lose our very life, we can be assured that our King is in charge of our eternity. For this reason, we are told not to fear those who can kill the body but fear the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell (10:28). Even in death, when we are persevering in Christ, we are overcomers with the eternal God who judges all.
7. Finally, you are in the hands of a God who knows you more intimately than you know yourself. He can number the very hairs on your head (10:30). If we are going to trust anyone with our life, surely it needs to be the One who intimately knows and cares for us. The God who has power over evil is immanently caring for you.
All of this makes a great point. We have good reason to proclaim the gospel and persevere in a world filled with evil. Ultimately, every Christian has nothing to lose including their life. Even if we lose that, in Christ we gain it. In Christ, we have no reason to fear evil.