I'm still playing catch-up on the New Testament reading that my church is doing together. A couple of days ago, I read Matthew 10. It's the chapter when Jesus is sending off his disciples. The whole chapter is Jesus telling them about how hard the journey was going to be for them. I'm sure they would have much rather heard Jesus say, "Yeah! This is going to be awesome! People are going to love you and love everything you have to say! Your life is going to be easy and perfect now that you're my follower!" But nope. Jesus is like, "You don't get to take anything with you...you may not be welcomed...people may not listen...you're gonna be like sheep among wolves...you're gonna get beat up and arrested...you'll be hated and persecuted. Take up your cross...". Yeah, not exactly what the disciples probably wanted to hear.
And this definitely is not the last time that Jesus tells his followers how hard it's going to be to follow him. How the world is going to hate them. How they are going to face persecution...
I'm trying to figure out when Christianity got so "safe" for us in America. When did it become so easy? I'm afraid this quote from Irresistible Revolution is pretty right on:
In our culture of "seeker sensitivity" and radical inclusivity, the great temptation is to compromise the cost of discipleship in order to draw a larger crowd. With the most sincere hearts, we do not want to see anyone walk away from Jesus because of the discomfort of the cross, so we clip the claws on the Lion a little, we clean up a bit the bloody Passion we are called to follow...And yet we can end up merely cheapening the very thing we want folks to experience.
In Matthew 10, Jesus makes no bones about how difficult it's going to be for the disciples. It seems to me that if we're not experiencing any sort of tension or opposition - even hatred - from the world around us because of the way we live or the things we say, I'm wondering if we should question whether or not we're truly living for that Kingdom. Maybe it means that we're not being bold enough or maybe it means we're living a watered-down version of the true gospel or maybe it's because we've isolated ourselves from people who would oppose us or who would disrupt our safe little worlds? I'm not sure what it means! All I know is that if Jesus tells us that following him is going to be hard, but all we are experiencing is safety and ease, there seems to be some sort of disconnect happening.
I realize that right now, these are just words coming out of my mouth. Were you to actually take my safety from me, I would probably want it back. So I guess that's what I'm sick of. I'm sick of that thing inside of me that still wants a "nice little life". I don't want to settle for comfort. Shane Claiborne talks about how the most dangerous place for a Christian may very well be in safety and comfort. And I really have no idea what that looks like for someone living in comfortable, safe little Williamson County. I just know that I want eternal eyes...and a heart that is much less fearful about those things which can destroy the body and much more concerned about that which can destroy the soul (Matt 10:28). I want to risk. And I want to do things that scare me. I want to be in situations where I'm going to be in major trouble if God doesn't come through.
This safety thing is just overrated.