Luke 12:51-53 NASB
Jesus followed His words about His upcoming death with another bombshell. If the disciples thought He would bring peace to the earth, they were wrong. He wasn't bringing unity, but division. He did not bring a comfortable, easy faith. He brought a dangerous, radical faith.
The "Christianity" we practice in this country is not quite what Jesus had in mind.
Jesus came to earth to bring us into a deep, intimate relationship with our Lord. It's a relationship marked by radical obedience that changes everything. When we are rich, we're really poor. When we're poor, we're really rich. We are to deny ourselves and follow Him wherever He leads, without a plan of our own making. The contrasts are stark and shocking. The following is radical and rare.
Faith in Jesus doesn't make sense to our entitled, affluent, prosperity-driven society, but it makes sense to Him.
We abandon our "rights" to follow the One who created us because He loves us and has our best interests at heart.
Radical obedience to Jesus should transform us into people filled with the fruits of the Spirit. If we allow His Spirit to work in us, we will become among the kindest, most generous people on earth, while at the same time speaking truth wherever God gives us opportunity. If you think people will embrace that change, you're wrong. Speaking the truth of Jesus is not popular. It never has been.
First century onlookers thought the followers of Christ mad, and it's no better today. Following Jesus brings division between those who believe and those who do not. Jesus said that division would extend even to our families. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons would be torn asunder because of their faith.
To be sure we understand, Jesus was not talking about a simple disagreement. This is a cleaving that completely separates the parts. Following Jesus will break our hearts, because it will cost some of us our relationships with the very people we love the most. He knew this, and He warned us, but He expects us to follow anyway.
There is a price to pay for how we respond to Jesus, either in this world or in the one to come.
If we follow Him, we will be despised and rejected, perhaps even by our closest family members. It's a kind of informed consent. This is what you risk when you follow Me, Jesus was saying. Count the cost.
His words are hard, and difficult to embrace. Can we do nothing? Are we to lose those we love and not look back?
Every day, people around the world face losing their families when they convert to Christianity. This is a real issue for the body of Christ. I know people who have been rejected by their families because of their faith. What do they do? They follow Jesus, pray, and press on.
We, too, may soon find there is a price to pay for following Christ.
What can we do? Pray as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depends upon it, for only God can help us in these difficult times.
Our Father, forgive us our frail, ineffective witness for Christ. Help us to live in such a way that others can see Jesus in us, no matter the cost. In Jesus' name, Amen.
We started this series with a lesson about the fire of persecution. Others include lessons from the life of Tyndale, Christ's baptism of suffering, and yesterday's squeeze chute of distress.
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