Jesus has a disdain for complacency that is very disconcerting for those who are complacent. In fact, reading some of the things Jesus actually says in the Bible are not only downright uncomfortable, but are terrifying for those of us who have attained the deceptively fragile equilibrium of the status quo.
For instance, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:34-37 ESV).
If one reads this passage shallowly, he might conclude that Jesus’ intent is simply to create chaos and enmity between people, particularly members of the same family. But when one reads it in the context of all things Jesus says and examines His earthly ministry, as well as His suffering and death on the cross, he sees that Jesus is referring to the rebooting that takes place when one comes spiritually alive and finds within himself a new slate of priorities… namely, love of God first and then love of others (Matthew 22:37-40).
Of course, these new passions in a person’s life will conflict with the priorities embedded in the traditions of families that have for generations believed and taught that one’s first loyalty is to himself; that the greatest measures of success in life are power, possessions, and popularity; and that the temporal is all there is.
It is an abomination to the general psyche of the various perspectives in the world to believe that one’s first loyalty is to God; that the greatest indicators of significance in life are lives influenced towards heaven by our own lives; and that we are created for eternity, not just for the now.
If one cannot see the eternal, then to him it seems foolish and even dangerous to tolerate those who do, lest others are “poisoned” with “foolish talk of heaven”. Naturally, this friction and, at times, open hostility towards a mindset on the things of Christ is a powerful deterrent to whole-hearted pursuit of Jesus as Savior and Lord.
However, we are each responsible for weighing the temporary pain and rejection of sincerely following Jesus against the ultimate pleasures and delight of pursuing Him with all out abandon. The “cop out” of watered-down Christianity is not what Jesus called us to and too small and petty a thing for His children. He has raised for us the banner of passionate and urgent pursuit of His will in all spheres of our lives – from worship to service, from giving to telling, from things “church-related” to things “job-related”, from the chores that we do to the entertainment in which we indulge whether books, movies or music.
The real problem with us is that we see Jesus’ shaking up of things as a threat. We resent the intrusion of His lordship into our lives and when we observe others bowing to Him in matters both great and small, our consciences are pricked and we assume the posture of people who are intruded upon.
But do we really want to reject a higher and more meaningful life than what we can contrive for ourselves in this short span of years we have in life? It might make sense if all we have is a few decades of existence, but it makes no sense at all when we realize that this short time is the season of investment for an eternity beyond the limits of our flesh and even our galaxy.
Perhaps this is why Jesus explains, “Whoever finds His life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 ESV). It seems that the only way to “buy stock” in eternity is by entrusting ourselves to the Eternal One.
It’s not an easy decision for us since we are personally conditioned to focus on the short term perspective of our short term physical lives. Nor does our fellow man or woman easily tolerate one who easily dismisses the promises of instant gratification. Yet, it is the watershed point of our lives, the moment we decide for whom will we live, to whom will we bow, and in whom will we trust. Ourselves? Others? Or God?
Jesus declares, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38 ESV). He isn’t being vague. He isn’t being touchy-feely. He isn’t sugar-coating what it is that He expects of us.
The world doesn’t need cultural Christians. It doesn’t need easy evangelicalism if its evangelism does not make clear the drastic command of Christ to leave all in order to follow Him. It doesn’t even need a world religion that teaches people to get along no matter what if it means compromising a whole-hearted giving of ourselves to Jesus and His commands.
The world needs “little Christs” who, being filled with His Spirit, love as He loves, obey Him as He obeyed the Father, and speak the truth courageously even if the whole world rejects them. As the days are filled with more chaos, as violence grows and spreads, as confusion tosses people back and forth from uncertainty to uncertainty and fear to fear, become the child of God and agent of light and love He sent you into the world to be.
Jesus said, “Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him Who sent Me” (Matthew10:40 ESV).