To live a life of faith and experience the abundant life the Bible promises requires that you are all in. Anything you are unwilling to surrender to God will become a foothold that keeps you from faithfully following Him.
Luke 14:28 tells us to count the cost before deciding to follow Jesus.
- Will you follow Jesus if it costs you friends?
- Will you follow Jesus if it costs you that promotion at work?
- Will you follow Jesus if it means surrendering your habits and desires?
- Will you follow Jesus even if He doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want Him to?
In Matthew 10, Jesus states that He has not come to bring peace on earth but a sword! To correctly interpret this passage, we have to understand the nature of the peace God provides.
Peace is a fundamental attribute of Christianity. When the Angels announced at His birth that in the city of David, Christ is born, the name Christ in Greek means anointed One, Messiah.
As the Messiah, Jesus is the One who makes peace on earth between God and man by being the once and for all sacrifice to pay the price for our sin debt.
Having your sin forgiven puts you at peace with God. At peace with God is the prerequisite for internal peace. And having inner peace is more valuable than external peace.
External peace requires all hostility around us to cease. Unfortunately, in today’s culture, this seems impossible. Just the mention of politics, sexuality, or Trump, and all sense of peace is lost.
Yet when you have God’s all-surpassing peace that guards your heart in Christ Jesus, it does not matter what’s happening around you.
Matthew 8 illustrates this truth as Jesus slept peacefully in the boat as the disciples frantically attempted to navigate the storm around and keep from sinking. Perfect peace that can only come from God allows you to remain calm when the storms of life rage around you.
Peace is accessible to all but exclusive to Christians. It’s the by-product of salvation.
Jesus’ coming did not eradicate wars between nations, conflicts among unbelievers, or the persecution of Christians. Rather the opposite. Jesus promises hostility.
The sword is a metaphor for conflict or hostility. In faithfully following Jesus, others may turn hostile towards you. There’s just something about the name Jesus.
- People will not bat an eye when you say you believe in a higher power.
- If you tell people you’re a spiritual person, they will applaud your choice.
- If you comment that you believe in God, the world will be agreeable with you.
But as soon as you define your higher power, spirituality, or God with the name of Jesus, suddenly, peace exits and conflict enters. This is because His name shines a spotlight on humanity, exposing our sinfulness.
The world would have continued comfortably, undisturbed, and anonymously in its sin had Jesus not shown up. Conviction makes people uncomfortable. Yet those who face it and turn to Jesus will find forgiveness and freedom, not judgment.
In verse 37, Jesus says those who love father and mother, son or daughter more than Him, are unworthy to be His follower. To His first-century audience, this statement would have been shocking.
Honoring your father and mother was embedded into Hebrew life through the 10 Commandments. It was the only commandment that came with a blessing.
Maybe this sounds like an unrealistic ask of Jesus. However, Jesus was not asking His followers to risk anything He wasn’t willing to risk.
“And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21
Jesus felt the sting of rejection from His family, who did not understand Him or His teachings. The point He is making is that you must be all in as His follower.
Partial obedience is as no obedience. God requires total obedience because your obedience dictates your direction, and your direction decides your destination.
To drive the point home even further, Jesus calls His followers to pick up their cross and follow Him. The cross represents death.
To take up your cross and follow Him was the highest form of self-denial. Without taking up your cross, you will live in a constant tug of war with your desires and obedience.
God is asking much of His followers because the rewards are worth it. The scales are tipped entirely in your favor, so take up your cross.
In verse 39, He summarizes His instructions by saying, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The person who finds his life is the one who lives to delight himself in the temporary pleasures and riches without considering eternity and loses his life in the end.
Yet the one who loses his life now, that is, sacrifices the temporary pleasures, parties, and pursuits of this world for Christ’s sake will procure eternal life.
The word “lose” in this passage means to destroy. It’s an illustration of total abandonment.
Who or what you’re obeying in life is who you’re following. But you better know where that is leading you!
Following God is worth every sacrifice you must make, so remain faithful and endure to the end!