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.”
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.
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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