Who Am I or Rather—Who Will I Be?

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:

Baby Nicole
Baby Me
With Dad and Little Sister
way back in the day
Mother's Day 2012
with my beautiful Mom
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A New Way of Living

InterdependenceInterdependent: (of two or more people or things) dependent on each other

Interdependent—that is what God is teaching me to be, and it is a hard lesson to learn. For years, I have prided myself on being independent. A child of American individualism, I have taken that concept and have run with it. As an adult, I have made my own way in life. As a singleton, I have had to do everything on my own. I haven’t had to depend on anyone financially—until now.

Support Raising. I don’t think a single missionary enjoys this process. It’s daunting, scary, humbling, and perhaps for some, humiliating. You see, in our American culture, we have been taught not to depend on others for anything, really, except for emotional support. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Make your own way in life. And Frank Sintra’s famous, I did it my way.

As Christians, we aren’t called to live life all alone; we are called to live in community; we are called to live not independently, dependently, but interdependently. And truly, that’s how we are designed to live as human beings. Even if I were independently wealthy, I don’t think being a missionary, solely dependent on my own funds, would be the way to go. When we commit to a project, organization, or cause with our time or money, we become engaged and invested. All of sudden that remote well in Haiti becomes my well too. If you feel compelled to partner with me in prayer and/or finances, my work in South Africa becomes our work in South Africa. Both senders and goers are equally important in God’s eyes.

As usual, Jesus knew what he was doing when he set up this model for proclaiming the Good News: “Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources” (Luke 8:1-3, NRSV).

A lot of times, I think Jesus’ women disciples get forgotten; but they played an integral role in his ministry by traveling with him and by donating to his cause. If a life of interdependency was good for Jesus and his disciples, it is good enough for me.

 

Image Source:  thegoldguys.blogspot.com/ or www.lumaxart.com/