"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
As I read this passage in Matthew this morning, I was puzzled. Jesus was giving instructions to the disciples, yet at first glance, what Jesus was saying seemed to conflict with what I know to be true of His very nature. I read it over and over. "I did not come to bring peace...I have come to turn families against each other...." But I also know the Bible says in Isaiah 9:6 that He is the "Prince of Peace." Matthew 5:9 says "Blessed are the peacemakers." John 14:27 says "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you..." The winds and the waves obey His voice... So how can Jesus say in this passage that He came to bring conflict?
First, the Bible doesn't contradict itself. Like no other book throughout history, truths are uniquely woven in its pages. I know that to be true, and I believe it to be true. So when I read something that seems to conflict with other Scriptures, I know to not take it at face value. That's my cue to dig deeper.
2 Corinthians 6:17 says that we should "come out from among them and be separate." When we make a commitment to be a follower of Christ, we sometimes are separated in belief from our friends and family. Jesus was not encouraging conflict or arguments between family members. What He was saying is that following Christ demands a decision. If we take a stand for Christ, then sometimes that means taking a stand against our family members and friends who do not believe in Him.
God is a God of peace. But what I believe this passage is saying is that He doesn't bring peace to gloss over spiritual differences, just for the sake of harmony. I know people who have had to flee for their lives because they took a stand for Christ in a third world nation. They have been ostracized by family and friends. That's the kind of conflict Jesus speaks of here.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Is this a riddle? Sure seems like it...Jesus loved to talk in ways that make us dig deeper into what He was really saying. If I am searching for what I want in life, never giving heed to God and His path for my life, the end is destruction. But if I put aside my goals and ambitions, for His will, I find true life.
My morals, values, and purpose for each day need to be different than non-believers. God is the first priority. I shouldn't blend in with everyone else. I've made that decision to follow Him, and there's no turning back. I'm in the battle, as a soldier for Christ. But, am I wearing my camos? Am I trying to blend in, not take a stand or 'stir the waves' when it comes to talking about God? Today it's my prayer that God will help me stand for what is right, when it's not popular, and even when it brings uncomfortable situations. I don't want to ever be a camouflage Christian.