Where’s our peace? Where and how do we feel that bedrock of assurance? Every time I watch TV, or look at social media there is an avalanche of messages persuading me that I can have peace, satisfaction, a sense of well being. But it’s all based on ephemera – there’s no substance, no endurance.
In the brief monologue of Matthew 10:34-38 Jesus points out the radical disconnect between living in the world and following Jesus. The disconnect is in fact between Jesus and anything else in this world. Jesus couches it in this way: “Don’t think I’ve come to bring peace on earth, I’ve not come to do that, but to bring a sword.” That’s drawing a line in the sand. Following Jesus will bring peace, peace on the inside; but it will provoke conflict in every other realm: family relationships, work relationships, neighbours, society in general, and society in the specifics of the norms to which it would hold us, and which we must refuse. Living for Jesus means more than just not fitting in, it’s one against the other, to the end of the world.
Jesus draws another line in the sand when he says in effect that anyone who puts anything ahead of him in their lives is not worthy of him. Every creature comfort that we demand for ourselves, every pander to the values and ways of living of this world that we hold to our bosom, every failure to take up our cross, deny ourselves and wholeheartedly follow Jesus is unworthy of him. And it’s to our ultimate harm.
Every little thing that we want to keep for ourselves keeps us from Jesus. It’s only when we actively choose to lose that, to push it all away in favour of Jesus that we actually gain our lives. The world offers to help you find the real you, exceed your personal goals, to become … something. Beware, Jesus assures us that whoever finds his life will lose it. But, if you will throw all that away for the sake of finding Jesus; if you will seek him with all your heart (not just when you’re singing worship songs), practically seeking him in all your life, 24/7, then, and then only, will you find life, life abundant, life fulfilled, life in Jesus who promised that same abundant life, only when we lose ourselves in him.
Too radical for you? Consider the One who says it.