Let’s face it, sometimes Jesus’ teachings are hard. Sometimes I wish he didn’t say some of the things he said. Take Matthew 10:37-39 (NRSV), for example: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
I have always struggled with this passage; it makes me feel uncomfortable. God wants us to love our families, right? I love my family more than any people in the world. And who wants to take up a cross, to face known or unknown persecution? Perhaps it is verse 39 that I find most troubling: Aren’t we supposed to find and embrace life? If we lose our life for Christ, we will find it? What does that mean? Help!
Over the years, I have come to a deeper understanding of Matthew 10:37-39. At the core, I think Jesus is talking about priorities. Whom do we love more–our families or him? As a matter of fact, it isn’t a tradeoff. The more we love Christ, the more we love our families and others. Everything falls into order.
As I prepare to move to South Africa as a cross-cultural Christian worker, I sometimes wonder if I will lose my identity. Whom will I be eighteen months from now? two years from now? three years from now? Will I even recognize myself?
For the longest time, I thought Matthew 10:39 referred to physical death: If we were persecuted and died for Christ, we would find life. But I don’t think that is the main thing Jesus is talking about. I think he is talking about giving up our life—life as we know it—for his sake, to do what he has called us to do. This new understanding of the scripture gives me hope and encouragement. As I give up my old way of life, I think I will find myself. I think I will be more fully me, the Yolanda Nicole Corlew whom God created me to be. And that makes me excited.
Just for fun–me over the years: