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Jesus, Author of Confusion?

In Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone15 Comments

Jesus and Conflict

Jesus, Author of Confusion?

 

Sometimes I take it all for granted.

Christianity is a radical call to follow Christ. It intends to shake us out of boxes made by the good folks of society. (And by good, I really mean upstanding, law-abiding, charity-supporting, contributing-to-society good.)

But I when I look at my life, I often find so much of inside the box, rather than outside it.

The other day, I read the always-challenging passage of Matthew 10:34-39, and it made me think about how autopilot my Christian walk often feels. How unradical my life is.

I frequent this verse from time to time, and in each reading Jesus confronts my imagining Him in light of his words. Verbiage like “I did not come to bring peace…” and “ I have come to turn man against his father, daughter against her mother…” and “anyone who loves their son or daughter is not worthy of me,” and “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Really? What have I gotten myself into with this Christianity thing?

What kind of man, or God, would bring division to a household? Would pit parents against their children?  He says, “.. a man’s enemies will be of his own household.”  Enemies? Following Jesus might mean that I make an enemy of my own family? Is that a good thing?

Sure, the gist of the passage is that God should be top priority in our lives. That loving Him is more important than anything else. But those words are easy to say, and even easier to read. What happens when I, as my dad often says, “put shoe leather on it.” What am I really supposed to do with that? How does it change how I live?

It’s difficult, sometimes, to really grasp the idea that what God wants from us is so different than what we want ( or at least what society says we should want). The way of the Kingdom so often flies in the face of good-standing, well-meaning society. It’s so counter-cultural, so motivated by something so radically different than the fear-based model of social behavior that it seems foolish. And it’s that perceived foolishness that leads to the delicious conflict of two, well-meaning positions — the kind of delicious conflict the evil one loves to witness. He has reaped many a treasured trophy from well-meaning conflicts. They have created the most lasting sort of division.

Jesus’ call on our lives will lead to risky, seemingly foolish places and decisions because His end game is not the same as society’s. Society wants to protect itself, and its rules and ‘boxes” are, at their core, designed for personal survival. But Jesus calls us to give our life away, to be ready to follow him down the ladder of social status rather than up it.  “Whoever finds their life will lose it,” Jesus says. What do we think he meant?

If He meant we don’t have to win society’s game, that we don’t have to follow the patterns of this world,  that Jesus changes our end game to be about what He wants and who He wants to reach, then we will find ourselves at ends with the very folks that care most about us. Because, if they are playing the social game of status, value, and importance, then they expect we are too.  And they want us to win. They want what they consider is the best for us. They mean well when they say we are taking too big a risk to follow Christ’s call.

A sword.

Maybe that’s what Jesus was warning his disciples about, warning you and me about. Your life will be different. It will be motivated by something different. It will be realized in risky, radical ways. And the people who love you most will not always understand. But be faithful, He says. Don’t waiver in your love for me, and in the end, life is yours. Real life, the life God intended… is yours.

Question of the Day!

Has your walk with Christ lead to conflicts with love ones?  Tell me about it.

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.
15 comments
James
James

Just thought you'd want to know that I referenced this blog post in the morning meditation I published today. Link: A Voice of Silence.

@jasonbnorth
@jasonbnorth

Good topic. My family is mainstream Christian & I have pushed the edges of what's traditionally believed for us quite a few times. I'm constantly pulled between my desire to align w/ the truth of what we believe & my desire to think outside it's box. I can see how choosing to follow God with an unbelieving family would be much more difficult, so I'm grateful for my upbringing. Christ's work was to allow God to be re-connected with His creation [humanity]. It is because of Christ that the reality-affecting truths of Salvation, forgiveness, justice, etc, can be made known from God, through us, in this world. Is this correct? It seems this is the essence of the faith [Salvation through Christ]. Everything else is semantics [although the semantics are still useful to discuss]. No matter how much I've questioned my family or those I'm connected with [& I try to question things humbly], and no matter how uncomfortable that can make things, the common denominator is Jesus. Without Him, we would have no direction. We would have no understanding of God's purpose for us. We are to love God & others with all we have, and if done right, it ruffle feathers [until God's kingdom is made manifest fully and this becomes the norm].

James
James

Have to break my message in two, since there's a character limit: I won't go through a lengthy series of quotes, but in reading Revelation this morning, I came across this: I fell at his feet to worship him; but he said, "Don't do that! I'm only a fellow-servant with you and your brothers who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." -Revelation 19:10 The angel didn't say to worship him and didn't even say to worship Jesus. He said "Worship God!" The monotheistic theme is an unbroken thread that weaves its way throughout the Bible. We replace God with others at our own peril. Even Jesus worshiped God and taught others to do so. Jesus didn't worship himself.

James
James

There's a lot I could say. In general, I find that the church has become too comfortable and relax. Hardly "radical" at all in their/our faith. However MartijnLinssen, when you quote a non-canonal text and say that Jesus "renounced monotheism", I am concerned. Are you saying that there are many Gods to be worshipped? The concept of monotheism is at the very heart of how the original Jewish Apostles, who were fiercely monotheistic, perceived the role of the Messiah in Jesus.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Interesting. It'd be a bit off topic here, but I would resist the idea that the "kingdom" Jesus is referring to is "heaven" but I suppose this isn't the post for that. See : the review of N.T. Wrights Surprised By Hope (http://antwuanmalone.com/2011/09/01/surprised-hope/ ) or Rob Bell's Chapter 2 Response (http://antwuanmalone.com/2011/03/27/love-wins-experience-chapter-two/ ) I'll check out your site, because I am a bit unfamiliar with the Book of Thomas (well, totally unfamiliar). As for the question, (to sum it up), you seem to be saying that the source of contention is a Jesus' new theology (or THE new theology) that Jesus brought to the people. Maybe new isn't the right word. Perhaps, I should say His reinterpretation, or correction of theology. But it was radical for his time, and thus subject to scrutiny. Further, the "sword" (Jesus' truth) threatens those who use power and fear-based tactics to control the masses. Okay. I happen to feel the sword has more to do with the proper amount of allegiance one has, and the difficulty to truly live a life for Christ while trying to maintain other priority relationships (like wives, kids, parents, etc...) Thanks commenting and I'll check out your site. Make sure you put your name and website on my "Tell Me About You" page -- http://antwuanmalone.com/2011/09/16/tell-who-you-... I use that page to frequent sites, and maybe we collaborate at some point.

@MartijnLinssen
@MartijnLinssen

Hi Antwuan, it wasn't until I read the Gospel of Thomas that I finally understood Jesus' words. In that text, it all makes sense - to me it doesn't conflict with the message society is sending, unless you mean institutionalised fear-based control structures like most of the Church. Jesus renounced monotheism, criticising religion in general, and taught that the Kingdom of God is inside us - that little sentence even survived the censorship and made it into the Four Gospels Everything we believe simply becomes Truth to us, no matter what. I've chosen to believe that living in fear leads to misery, and love to happiness. Guess what? It's true for me. My neighbours take the Bible literally but this or that hasn't changed a thing in our relationship - we get along really fine But yes, your life will dramatically change when you start thinking for yourself. And when you realise that most of our knowledge is only based on our own or other people's perceptions and assumptions