In an uncertain world, we face the temptation of fear. However our King calls us toward courage. One picture of faithful courage is found in Jesus’ words to His disciples.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

This image of being sheep in the midst of wolves inspired U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black.

“It just amazed me that a Good Shepherd would send, not a sheep but a lamb, a baby sheep, into the midst of the predatory. One wolf could eviscerate a sheep, but here is a single lamb in the midst of wolves.”

“God basically said to His disciples, as He sent them into the midst of the predatory, you need a tough mind and a tender heart. You need to be wise as a snake and innocent as a dove.”

It’s that special combination of wisdom and innocence that must characterize God’s people amid whatever threats we might face today.

“There are a lot of Christians, and people of faith, who have innocent hearts; there’s a certain naiveté to that. Joseph coming toward his brothers thought he was in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. His brothers had a predatory instinct, ‘behold, the dreamer comes,’ as Joseph is thinking, ‘it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. (Genesis 37)’

“So it’s not enough to have the innocence of a dove. You need to have the tough mind that the Apostle Paul had when they were about to flog him and Paul says, You mean to tell me you’re going to flog a Roman citizen? And they said, You’re a Roman citizen? Paul was able to avoid a beating because he had a tough mind.”

Jesus also demonstrated perfect innocence while staying strong against evil:

“Jesus had a tough mind when he said to Peter, get thee behind me, Satan. To call one of your closest followers your adversary, after telling him seven verses earlier, Flesh and blood have not revealed this unto you but my Father in Heaven: that’s a tough mind. But He was so committed to Calvary that He had that spirit. That’s the spirit that we need to thrive–not just survive, but thrive–in a threatening world. (Matthew 16)”


Rear Admiral Barry C. Black (Ret.) was elected as the 62nd chaplain of the United States Senate in 2003. Prior to coming to Capitol Hill, Chaplain Black served in the U.S. Navy for more than 27 years, ending his distinguished career as the chief of Navy chaplains. Chaplain Black is the author of From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming,  The Blessing of Adversity, and his latest book, Nothing to Fear.

Nothing to Fear with Senate Chaplain Barry Black

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