Read Matthew 10:34-39
34”Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.’”
37”Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (NIV)
This is a very tough passage to hear. We ask, “where is the love of God in this passage?” “Where is the unity?” A first glance seems that Christ is about separation and death which makes being a disciple not seem all that attractive.
But as we look, Jesus is not telling us to hate our family. The use of the word sword in verse 34 is but a reminder that when we accept Christ, there will come trouble from places we did not expect it. This was so prevalent in the early church. When a member of a household accepted Christ, it brought division in the household from those who do not follow Christ. We see this problem today in other countries dominated by different cultures. Family members who accept Christ are still disowned by families in parts of the world. In verse 35 and 36, Jesus is not telling us what to do, but what to expect from following him.
Some people have noted that the greatest idol we follow that keeps us from Christ is the family. Our family has such power over us. After all, they are family and we love them. Often, they are the ones that support us when no one else will.
And we must not that Jesus is telling his disciples this before they go out and preach on their own. This was not a teaching we find to the general public. Jesus wanted the disciple to be prepared from one of the results of their preaching. It would be one they must be prepared to address and know that their preaching is effective and to not stop.
Over the years, I have served and worked with churches that were close to closing their doors. In the process of bringing new life to the church and finding ways to be the church again, there would come with that a lot of trouble and discord in the congregation. I knew that this was a sign that we were on the right path. It was a sign that the “devil” did not want that congregation to get back on its feet and be effective again. So the “devil” would stir things up in the transition, trying to get the church to go back to their old and ineffective ways. If we know the bad things that will happened as we move to Christ, we can keep them from derailing our efforts. I believe that this is what Jesus is warning his disciples about.
In verse 37, Jesus is not telling us to not love our family. We can love family and God at the same time. But it is a warning that there may come a time when Jesus’ call on our life will cause us to have to do something our family doesn’t like or doesn’t want us to do. We have to remember that if we love God, then we are called to love family and will probably do a better job loving. But God is to be our first love.
And finally, Jesus bring us the cross and that we are to take up our own cross. The cross can only represent death. It is not some burden we carry. It is death and we must choose it freely. We must choose to die to self so that we can live to Christ. It is dying to our way and living to God’s way. It is impossible to do both. And we carry the cross because it is a process of dying. It would be great if we could simply flip a switch inside us and go from living for self one moment and living for God the next. It is a journey that we die to self and live for God. Thus, we carry the cross.
God wants us to be informed of the demands and consequences of following him. In this world, walking with God will have problems because there are forces at play that do not want us to find peace in God. We walk by faith, but not blindly.
Contemplate on what this demand means to you personally.
Blessings and Peace