Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Prince of Peace

You can run, but you cannot hide. You cannot escape Jesus when He is in full pursuit of your soul. He does not settle for a separate peace on your terms. He wants it all, and there is no real peace until He gets what He wants. He did not come to bring peace anyway. He is at war with the powers of this dark world and in that fight, you are either for Him or against him. There is no mediated middle ground or safe place from which you can watch. In Matthew 10:34-39, He explains his purpose and it is not a position of unity. It is divisive and decisive.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

In ancient Hebrew society, family, faith and politics was everything. If you stepped out of any of those areas in any rebellious way, it was a major problem for everyone involved. If you refused to return to the positions of your people, the family would hold a funeral for you and you would become dead to them. There were no options. Submit or lose everything.

Jesus asked those that would be His disciples to risk this kind of loss. Faith in Him would require much in terms of personal behavior. Those things once considered important and all powerful in this life would be set aside for the cause of Christ. This would and did bring division wherever the Gospel was preached. It brought persecution. It could even bring death.

What Jesus said in verse 38 about failure to take up the cross, burns through history as the ultimate sign of commitment. In the 21st century we look back at those times like it was some kind of movie make believe. It was anything but make believe. We adorn our rear view mirrors with crosses. We hang them around our necks and wear them on our wrists, we even tattoo them on our bodies, but we do not really understand what it is we do. 

The cross is not, correctly speaking, a symbol of Christianity. It is an ancient execution device that the Romans, in their time, used to great effect to curb crime and rebellion against the state. It was both a symbol of shame and a symbol of fear. To take up your cross in the Roman world, meant certain death. You were only.going to one place if you had a cross on your shoulder and you would never be coming back from that place.

Unless you were Jesus! 

This is the kind of commitment that Jesus requires of those that would be genuine disciples. It's a commitment to accepting a life of suffering and violence if need be. It is choosing Him over family and friends and personal political viewpoints. It is a way of life.

Do we really get that as His Church today? Are we the 'June Cleaver' bride that works quietly in the home, doing the hoovering in high heels and pearls? Or are we the bride that works side by side with her husband, getting dirty and sweaty and making sure that the kids know Him too in a way that will last a life time?

Where is your cross? Is it around your neck done tastefully in gold, or is it on your shoulder for all to see?

You see what I'm getting at Christian? Jesus was not playing games. We should not be doing so either. 

No comments: