I not talking about merely missing an opportunity to acknowledge God, but more specifically repeated refusal to acknowledge God to professing atheists in a public, group conversation setting. Also, perhaps refusing to say," I am a Christian, and that is against my religion to do that." Matthew 10:32-33, Matthew 15:8
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Matt 10 begins by giving us the names of the 12 disciples to whom Jesus is getting ready to give "instructions," and send them out to preach in His name. This is not to be seen as a list of rules for us to follow. This whole chapter is the "instructions" Jesus gave to "them" for that ministry.
"Do not go to the Gentiles..." Matt 10:5... That's not to us. "Don't take any money for your journey..." What if we imagined He meant that for us today? "Stay in the house of a worthy person." We have to get a motel room when we go to preach somewhere. These are instructions (vs 5) for the disciples not a list of "rules" for following Jesus to go by for all times.
The "instructions" for how to conduct yourself in an invironment that is hostile to "Him," not us, is still worth remembering. He's not telling them to be willing to put their lives on the line to honor Him. "When you are persecuted in one city, flee to the next..." Matt 10:23.
He says family will betray family to let them know how serious their ministry will be. He's not asking them to "pick a side," He's telling them, and us, that His followers will be ostracized.
He's actually telling Jewish men that their families, the Jews, was going to reject them and their message about Him. He sent them directly to the people who would reject them. He says, "you're not worthy of Me sending you if you choose your families instead of Me."
Were the Jews worthy of being preached to?
Matt 11:1 After He finished giving "instructions"
Jesus didn't "instruct" Matthew to pen this chapter of the gospel so we might try to make ourselves appear "worthy" to be in relationship with Him. Rather, it's to give us an historical context of how this ministry we're a part of got started. It's not an accounting of a litmus test given to the first disciples for us to use to test our level of commitment.
Their message was, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 10:7). They were to show proof of it by "[healing] the sick, [raising] the dead, [cleansing] lepers, [casting] out demons. We don't do any of that. Some among us fake having this ministry because of the way the bible is seen as "rules" for all followers for all times.
I often hear "if they don't heed your gospel message shake the dust off ..." That's not what we are to do. That was given to the 12 for God's purpose for the Jews.
Finally... He tells them, "Do not fear."
I've never been fearful about sharing my faith in Jesus. He says to fear God "who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," not those who can only kill the body (Matt 10:28). This statement is an evaluation of the body in comparison to the soul, not a threat to leave you "hanging out to dry" if you fear your enemies more than you do God.
"If you deny Me, I will deny you."- My Father knows those who knows Me. It's His rule not mine.