We don’t usually like things we don’t understand…especially when those things become personal. We want things to make sense, especially in our thinking about faith and beliefs.
The fact is that some parts of the Holy Scripture that hit a raw nerve and seem to be totally against the loving, compassionate God that we believe in, we recoil and would rather be like Scarlett O’Hara and think about it another day.
As an example, priests and ministers of most Christian churches have a Lectionary of Holy Scriptures that are followed weekly when preparing for the message given to the congregation. It is often difficult for a minister to follow faithfully these Scriptures and to find something to tell the people sitting in the pews that might have an inspirational meaning. Some are quite difficult, such as this one: Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Hate is a very strong word. Did He really say that or did the translators of the Greek get it wrong? We’d like to think someone flubbed up somewhere or is there an underlining meaning to these hard sayings that we are missing? Family people I know would do anything for their children, spouses and parents. Turning the back on any of them would be out of the question. Yes, there are family divisions, but it usually is not in order to serve Christ. To say that this particular Scripture is a “hard one” is putting it mildly.
Stephen Dass, a priest and his wife are missionaries to the street children, teens and young adults of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He writes in part these words about this difficult teaching of Jesus:
“Jesus demands that we give up everything that we possess including our families. It sounds like Jesus is going against everything that the modern church has termed as “family values.” Jesus tells us that they are a hindrance to our salvation. No one in their right mind would think that these so-called “family values” are wrong, even the Pagans would agree with us. They (families) are the fabric of every society.
Nevertheless, Jesus always swam against the current of cultural norms. He challenged whatever our culture told us was right and good. Almost every saint in our church calendar took these words of Jesus literally and seriously. We can try to make it more amenable in order to deal with it. This attempt would only serve to dilute the intensity of the gospel. These words are what they are. Therefore, we have to do something about it.
Most of us are just common people. We are not saints like those in the past. We sense a responsibility to our family. We need to have possessions in order to survive in this world. Yet, we want to follow Jesus and take His words seriously. There are no easy answers… We need to think and struggle with these difficult issues. There are no easy answers. Perhaps, there are no answers at all.”
I think that this last sentence might hit the nail on the head. There are some things that we will not understand. Perhaps, the most simplistic way to phrase it is that Jesus doesn’t want anything…wealth, friends, family, vocations, or…ANYTHING to get in the way of a person following Him and the Gospel of love and salvation for which He died to redeem man. If we are drawn away from Him by even the most treasured thing, we must rethink our relationship to it.
Christ was clear that “Where your treasure is…your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-24 is not only the chapter of the Bible with “The Lord’s Prayer” but gives some stern warnings that also use the word “hate” which is a word so abhorred today.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (or any other thing that comes between you and Christ)
Ultimately we decide what and Whom we will serve. We choose the road we will follow. One of my favorite poems is by Robert Frost. His choice made a difference to him…and so will ours. Give this some thought.
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September 8, 2019 | Categories: Christianity, Ideologies and Beliefs, Religious Faith | Tags: Boyer Writes, deciding for Christ, decisions, difficult thoughts, hard sayings, less traveled road, Luke 24:26, Matthew 6, Robert Frost, serving two masters, storing up treasures, two masters | Comments Off on Hard Things to Understand