A man walks in the front door of the church clutching his well-worn Bible. Most people come in the doors by the parking lot, but this person didn't drive a car to church so he came in the doors closest to the sidewalk. Aside from his clothes, this has already set him apart because no one ever uses those doors. His clothing also draws negative attention to him. Not because he is wearing jeans; a lot of other people wear jeans to church, but because his jeans are torn and dirty. His shirt is wrinkled and a bit out of date. If this man came into your church, would he be welcomed; would anyone talk to him? Would anyone help him find his way around? Would anyone give him more information about your church? Would anyone stop to hear his story? The verses I read warned us about how the world may treat us as followers of Christ; however, today's verses talk a little how we treat each other. Please read Matthew 10:32-42.
When you read through these verses, do they seem to contradict themselves? Let's look a little deeper into what Jesus was telling us. Jesus fist tells us that He wants all His followers to acknowledge Him here on earth. It is important that if we are following Him, we tell others about the hope we have in Him. Jesus then tells us that He didn't come to bring peace; rather, He brought a sword. As part of the Armor of God, we are told that we have the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Remember, Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1) so He has truly brought us a sword!
He begins to talk about how the family will even be set against one another. But we need to consider the fact that Jesus was quoting Micah 7:6. In Micah, Israel is being warned of a time of confusion and judgement as a result of their sin. Jesus used these verses while He spoke to His disciples what it would mean to follow Him. Even our own families would not understand our commitment to follow Him. Was Jesus telling us to hate our families? Absolutely not! He was telling us that following Him had to be our first priority no matter the consequences. The consequence of sin and unbelief would be divisions among family and friends.
Jesus tells us that following Him means that we need to be willing to give up what is so important to us in order to follow Him. We are told that when we give up our life, we will actually gain life. God asks us to let go of things because He has something better for us. But then, Jesus begins to talk about hospitality toward His followers. Are we willing to accept His prophets and other followers? When we accept those in His family, we are accepting Christ. And when we accept Christ, we are accepting God. So, no matter how others treat us, Jesus told us to treat His followers with love and hospitality.
Now that we looked into these verses a little, do they contradict each other? Not at all! Jesus warns us of how we will be treated as His followers, but He tells us how we are to treat each other as part of His family. He first talks of the divisions that will happen in our earthly families; however, He tells us how our spiritual family should look. If we love Christ, we will love fellow followers. The church isn't about ourselves and our comfort; it is about Christ. There is sacrifice in the walk, but there is life in the walk!
Are you willing to accept the consequences of following Christ? Are you willing to love His followers?
This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.