In an Age of Terror, Hope

Union Square with WTC Memorial in the Distance
Chris Ford | Flickr

We live in an age of Terror. 9/11 wasn’t an isolated event. There could be another horrific act like it tomorrow. If it does, people of faith will have two questions: first, does God care about our suffering? —and, second Is there someplace we can we find the strength to carry on? Pastor Luke preaches from Matthew 10:24–33 in “In an Age of Terror, Hope.”

(Note: the audio recording for this podcast is substandard. We are investigations solutions to the problem.)

Talk It Over

GETTING STARTED. What can you remember from 9/11?

EXPLORE THE PASSAGE. Read Matthew 10: 24–33 (optionally 10: 16–39).

1. Think of some people you know who do not follow Jesus. Who do they like more, Jesus, or his followers? What are some things they like about Jesus that they believe his followers often lack? What are some things about Jesus himself that they find objectionable?

2. The word translated “sparrow” (v. 29) means any of several kinds of small birds caught and sold to eat (think of the song about “blackbirds baking in a pie”). What does it say about their value if two cost “a penny” (the smallest coin)? How hard would such birds be to come by?

3. “Apart from your father” (v. 29) could mean “without God noticing,” or “without God’s permission,” or “without God doing it.” Which do you think Jesus means here?

4. What can we say about God … when a sparrow falls to earth? … when one of our hairs falls out? … when a Jesus-follower is persecuted?

5. How many cars are owned by your household? Television sets? Chairs? Socks? What does our ability to count something say about its value? What does it mean that God knows how many hairs we have?

6. The “soul” in verses 28–29 means the life (the anima, the difference between a living animal and a dead one). (See 2 Corinthians 5: 1–10.) Jesus says that persecutors can only kill the body. Is there any way an earthly persecutor could kill the soul / life / anima? How about a demonic foe? Who is the one who could kill both body and soul?

APPLY THE LESSON. 7. Jesus says his followers will be pressured to distance themselves from him and his message. What part of the good news about Jesus is most frightening to the powers of the world?

8. What is the difference between the two types of fear in verse 28? What does verse 31 tell us about the second kind of fear?

9. Think of something that you fear: terrorism, disease, aging, financial problems, a difficult relationship, or something else. What does Jesus say in Matthew 10 to give you hope? What is one way you can hold onto it when you are frightened?

Food for Thought

Monday. How is the Christian life like the apprenticeship Jesus describes in Matt. 10: 24–25? How is it different, according to Colossians 3: 1–4?

Tuesday. Read John 14: 8–14. What limits are there on what Christians can do? How does this relate to what Jesus says in Matthew 10: 24? (Hint: who is doing what in each passage?)

Wednesday. Read 2 Corinthians 5: 1–10. The “tents” that Paul refers to are the body as we experience it now and in the Resurrection. What are some ways the Resurrection body is superior to the ones we have now? (See also 1 Corinthians 15: 50–58 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13–18.)

Thursday. Read Matthew 10: 16–23. Can Jesus’ followers lie in order to avoid persecution? What should they do to avoid persecution?

Friday. Read Revelation 7: 9–17. How many people does John see in the multitude? What does that say about earthly troubles? What do the people have in common and what does that signify? (vv. 9, 14) What will God do for them? (v.17)

Saturday. Read John 10: 19–21. Beelzebub was originally a name given to the
pagan deity of a neighboring nation (2 Kings 1: 2–3) but by Jesus’ time it had come to mean Satan. What do Jesus’ opponents call him? What keeps everyone from being united in that opinion?