Matthew 10:34,37 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword… whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Sometimes Jesus words to not sound very Jesus-like. I have, in my mind, a very clear idea of what Jesus is all about. He is loving, He is kind and He is a peace-maker. The Jesus in my head would never carry a sword, right?
I often embrace a view of God that I prefer and I dismiss those attributes that make me squirm. When I have fallen, I like to remind myself that God is merciful and forgiving. I do not want to hear about consequences and destruction. I want a god that makes me feel good.
So, this passage is one that I tend to just ignore. I would prefer a Jesus that tells me how family should be the most important thing in life. I really do not want to hear about my upside-down priorities. I am supposed to be a good dad, right?
I often attribute pleasant sounding ideas to Jesus, thinking that He might have said them. Jesus just wants me to be happy… Jesus wants me to follow my heart… Jesus is all about love. Following him is easy…
He must have known that his message of love and forgiveness would lead many to mistake him as a pushover. Jesus minced no words here, insisting that following him would be anything but easy. Choosing to follow the Christ will violently change the way I live my life.
When I follow Jesus, He says that I am to put him above everything, even my family. This causes me to recoil. How could I put anything above my wife and children? To this, Jesus points to my past, showing me how I have followed self to destruction, not considering my wife and children. The truth is, I have always pursued me above all. The violence that Jesus perpetrates is not to my wife and children. The violence done to my life is removing me from the throne.
It is not that Jesus wants me to ignore my family and the important things in life. He knows that when I am in charge, I cause destruction and pain. He made me and He knows that it is only in putting him above all, that everything else falls into its proper place.
So, when I choose to follow him, the violence done is ultimately to my own ego, pride and flesh. I recoil from Jesus words because He says I am not the boss anymore. He carries a sword to cleave me from myself. This may be painful, but it is necessary and in the end, beautiful.