Matthew 10:31-39

So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:31-39

This is a hard text because it requires us to look straight in the eyes of the hard realities of life.

First century Christians could read these words and immediately recognize what had been happening all around them. Christianity was born out of the death of a very difficult time in Jewish history. The resistance to Rome erupted in an unwinnable war that left Jerusalem in ruins and the historic temple destroyed. Some saw Jesus as the answer while others saw him as the cause. People took sides and families were split.

What makes this so hard is that it attacks our deepest longings. We want our families to be safe places in life, resilient teams that band together to face whatever is difficult. The new season of the television series “This Is Us” kicked off this week. Watching it is also a emotional experience because it draws upon this desire for togetherness and mutual support even as it exposes the many pressures and challenges that make life difficult.

All of this is amplified in the church. We want Christian community that functions as our “other family.” For many people, the expectation is that what was missing in their home life might be fulfilled in their relationships at church. In reality, what was missing in their home lives ends up fueling unmet expectations at church. People get divided and disappointed in painful ways.

People in recovery have long said that “expectations are seeds for future resentment.” They learn that most often as they review what life has been like for them along the way. Until they learn that, they aren’t able to live life on life’s terms, to accept the reality of letting go of expectations, letting go of the need to control, and letting go of pinning their hopes on how other people need to be in order for them to have an easier way in life.

This has less to do about choosing sides and dividing and more about choosing to slow down, to act rather than react, to love the best and leave the rest. It is about maturing. It is about finding a life that is really life.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we long for a sense of togetherness and connectedness because that is how you made us. That is your image in us, our hunger for relationships. But these can be so fragile, even among our closest family members and friends. Help us grow toward that place where we can accept life as it is. Help us find a life that is truly life, one step at a time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Matthew 10:31-39”

  1. Gary Reese Says:

    Thank you for your perspective, this divisiveness is mind boggling and I hope that we can find a way to handle the discourse in more effective ways.

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Life is not for the faint-hearted! Nice perspective on the application of Christ’s words to daily life.

  3. Walt Wendolowski Says:

    While neither Lutheran nor Christian, I always appreciate the kind words and perspective of Pastor Kerry. I am struck how the third to last paragraph has elements of Buddhist philosophy. The universitality of the comments rings true.

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