Text: Matthew 10 (Read it here, but please avoid this text if you are content being a casual Christian)
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10.38-39, NIV)
Casual Christianity…HA, HA, HA, HA!!!!
Author: Trent Roberson
Often we measure spiritual growth by church attendance, conversion, and giving. Our American, First World, churches are full of good intentioned, God loving individuals, who are fans of Jesus. Unfortunately, the ideological gulf between a disciple and fan is drastic. Matthew 10 seems distant to us, almost from another world, with its talk of witness, persecution, poverty, and martyrdom.
As Jesus sends out the 12 disciples he charges them to:
- Go to the same lost sheep of Israel that he did
- Proclaim the same message
- Perform the same healings, exorcisms, and even raising from the dead
- Live the same wandering, dependent life of poverty
- Anticipate the same mixed reception
He tells them to prepare for their journey by not packing a bag or taking their wallet. Jesus challenges them to make themselves vulnerable through relationships with anticipation that they will not be accepted, possibly even broken down or arrested. He prepares them to anticipate family rejection due to the mission that he’s called them to. Jesus then sugar coats the message with a simple, “do not be afraid”, because he knew that the value of the mission was greater than the cost of following him.
Matthew 10 reveals what the Christian life essentially is. It’s a confession of Jesus and focus on His mission, letting go of identity based upon material possessions as well as fear of what others might think about us, placing loyalty to God above all other loyalties, and trusting in God and God’s future. Jesus’ call to this life of mission is directed only to the twelve, but all Christ followers called to participate in this mission.
We can read Matthew 10 and walk away with 1 of 2 conclusions. The price is to high and I have too much to lose or Christ has invited and prepared me to participate in His crazy, adventurous, life-changing mission and because of that my life has great purpose! Let’s leave the fan section and participate in this mission that he has invited us to.
What fears keep you from participating in Christ’s mission? How does Satan control us through fear? What do you have to lose?
What instructions does Jesus give the twelve prior to their going out to proclaim the message of the kingdom? If you were planning their venture, how prepared would you consider them, given those instructions? What sort of things would you have rather been a part of those initial instructions?
Do you think the disciples rejoiced in knowing they were being sent out like “sheep among wolves?” In what ways do you see yourself as being a sheep among wolves when you attempt to share your faith and live a life committed to Christ?
We live in a world that often considers life the most important thing we can hold on to. The inverse is also true: death is often considered the final and worst defeat possible. How can you live today in a way consistent with Jesus’ teaching that those who attempt to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life actually find it?