Very few people enjoy conflict. We crave harmony and peace. We even teach seminars on peacemaking and conflict resolution in our churches or institutions.
Read Matthew 10:34-39. What does Jesus mean when He says that He did not come to bring peace but to bring a sword? What does this mean, considering that Jesus is “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)?
Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:34-39 is shockingly counterintuitive. The Savior, who came as a helpless babe instead of a powerful king surrounded by elite bodyguards, who preached love to both neighbors and enemies, now tells His followers that He brings division and struggles. His disciples and His audience may have wondered, as we are wondering: How can this be?
Matthew 10:35-39 is really about allegiances and loyalties. Quoting Micah 7:6, Jesus challenges His audience to make choices for eternity. A son should love and honor his parents. That was a legal requirement of the law that Moses had received on the mountain. It was part of God’s required mode of operation; and yet, if that love would trump the hearer’s commitment to Jesus, it required a tough decision. A father and a mother should love and care for their children. Yet, if that love would top the parents’ commitment to Jesus, it required a difficult decision. First things first, Jesus reminds us in this passage.
Jesus expresses this choice by formulating three sentences, each using the term worthy. Worthiness is not based on high moral standards or even overcoming sin. Worthiness is based on one’s relationship with Jesus. We are worthy when we choose Him above everything else — including mother, father, or children. We choose the suffering of the cross and follow Jesus.
“I have no higher wish than to see our youth imbued with that spirit of pure religion which will lead them to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Go forth, young disciples of Christ, controlled by principle, clad in the robes of purity and righteousness. Your Saviour will guide you into the position best suited to your talents and where you can be most useful.” — Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 87.
|Sometimes we are forced to bear a cross not of our own choosing, and sometimes we voluntarily bear a cross. Either way, what is the key to bearing that cross faithfully?|