Worst Motivational Speech Ever
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. Matthew 10:21
When my kids were young, they swam for a local swimming club. To participate, I got my coaching certificate, allowing me to be on deck for their meets. I coached the youngest kids and at our first competition, I had six or seven terrified little swimmers looking to me for some words of comfort. So, I pulled out my best story of my first wrestling match when I was their age. In the story, I too was terrified, but I showed up, stepped out on the mat . . . and got pinned in six seconds. It was awful. I cried and wanted to quit, but I didn’t. Even though I was never very good, I wrestled through college.
In retrospect, it wasn’t a great story. My own kids agreed that it was probably the worst pep talk ever. It didn’t inspire courage. It didn’t have a happy ending, and it reminded the kids that embarrassing defeat was an imminent possibility. No one ever asked me for a pep talk again.
In today’s passage, Jesus gave a similarly dreary speech to his disciples right before he sent them out into the world. He didn’t tell them how wonderful things would be. Instead, he promised they’d be arrested. He said the world would hate them, families would turn on them, and they would likely face death for following Christ.
Jesus didn’t give flowery motivational speeches designed to inspire throngs of followers. Instead, he repeatedly insisted on counting the cost to weed out the fakers and wannabees. Let’s not pretend this life is going to be easy. Even if you’re fortunate enough to avoid persecution, the life of a disciple means daily abandoning your path to follow mine. I don’t promise the easy life. This will be hard. What I do promise is that in following me, I’ll save you from the misery of yourself. In me, you’ll find the answer to all of your deepest needs.
Only those who know the death and destruction of their own way will be desperate for the resurrection. Those content with the status quo will never commit to the radical change it takes to abandon the old life. Those who have come to know the new life though, will testify to its profound value. The redemption and joy of the new life is always worth the discomfort of abandoning the old one.