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:
10 thoughts on “Who Am I or Rather—Who Will I Be?”
truth I needed to hear today, nicole. thanks. well said. (love the baby pics!)
Loved this! When I went away to law school I knew no one within 400 miles. By completely losing the context in which I had lived my life, it almost felt like a death. But then I became ever so much more aware of my identity in Christ- the real me. My college son Andrew just arrived in South Africa where he is spending the summer working at African Leadership Academy. I’d love for the two of you to meet when he returns late July. Where will you be based in South Africa?
Thanks, Molly. I find your words very encouraging. I’ll be in Cape Town. That’s great about your son! Where is he in South Africa? Which university does he attend here? I would definitely love to meet him when he returns.
Andrew is a rising sophomore at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The school where he is working is just outside Johannesburg. I’ll get in touch when he get back. Just based on early reports I think South Africa already has a place in his heart.
South Africa gets into your soul, so I can understand if your son has already fallen in love with the country. I went to graduate school at UNCG. Chapel Hill is a great school. I look forward to meeting Andrew and hearing about his experiences.
Beautifully written! Thanks for stating these questions of my own heart. Now, can you please answer them for me (no pressure)!
The photos of you and your family are delightful, too! 🙂
Thanks, Robin! I’m still wrestling with some of the questions too. I’m so excited about seeing you in a couple of weeks. Yay!!!!
I agree! Not to worry about the identity. I my case, moving from Puerto Rico to USA 14 years ago has not made me lose my Caribbean identity. On the contrary, the more I live in this country the more I value my roots. But, of course you will change, you will feel more that this country will be part of you too!
Thanks, Alma, for your thoughtful reply and encouragement. Your words were helpful to hear. I have heard this experience to be true for many people who leave their homeland to live in another country. I think you are right; in a way, I think I will find out just how American I am and come to terms with what I truly value. I know I will never be the same.