Matthew 10:32-39 (click for full reading)
“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” –Matthew 10:39
Swords & Croses
(Click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
Oh my. Today’s text is not a good recruiting tactic for signing up as disciples. Yikes. Our families will hate us? We might die? Sign me up?
Jesus knows that when we are sent out, things aren’t always easy. But what he does tell us is that we are going to have to bring a sword and pick up a cross. Those two things are important, for two very different reasons.
Jesus starts with the sword. Not where you’d think he’d start, and he doesn’t say what you think he’s going to say either. “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” Another yikes. Is this a call to fight for Jesus? NO.
It’s a reminder that when we follow Jesus, things get messy. A sword cuts. It divides.
When you take up the cross, when you pick up the mantle of disciple and go out into the world, the world is not always going to like what you have to say. In fact, more often than not, it will hate what you have to say. We like the idea of loving our neighbors. But not really doing it. We like the idea of grace, as long as it’s for us, but as long as that grace doesn’t include anyone who is mean, or cuts us off in traffic, or someone who has killed another person. But, Jesus reminds us that he loves like that. And people don’t like it. It’s scandalous.
But it doesn’t stop there. We are also asked to pick up a cross. Jesus reminded us that when we follow him, it’s not going to be easy. But, unlike in many parts of the world, we don’t suffer all that much for our faith here… so what does this cross mean for us? I think it means two things. It means in a world like ours, our posture toward others should be cross-like: arms open. Not closed fists ready to fight, but arms open. And that means we might take some hits.
But the cross is a promise. A promise of life after death. A promise of NEW LIFE.
A cross and a sword. We are asked to carry both as we go out into the world.
Questions to ponder/discuss:
1. Jesus asks us to follow, but reminds us that it’s not easy. When are some times that being a follower of Jesus has been difficult for you?
2. What is the most radical act of love you have heard of or witnessed?
3. What does going out into the world with a cross-like posture mean to you? Do you find yourself in the world more often with arms open or fists closed and up?
I wondered in this sermon what it might look like for P0P to go out into the community and love like Jesus. Loving like the world loves doesn’t really surprise anyone, but loving people like Jesus did? That’s shocking. Who is someone that might need to be loved in this way? Take some time this week, and find opportunities to love those who don’t often receive love from others.