Throughout Matthew 10 and especially towards the close Jesus brings us face to face with what can be for some an unsettling reality, Jesus must come first. Those that would follow Him must pledge fully body and soul to Him and seek to honour Him with all they do in every aspect of life. There must be no area where He does not come first. We are to love Him more than any other person or object in the world and be willing to sacrifice all for Him and submit every whim, wish, and desire to His will.
He speaks of the one that might deny Him before the Father and He speaks of those that love their own father and mother more than He as not being worthy of Him. Naturally, many who have been raised to have an unyielding commitment to their families may recoil at this. How also, can one who speaks of love, grace, and compassion, speak so harshly about relationships with those whom we are closest? It is because that He is deity and fully God and just as we are reminded in the 10 Commandments that we can have no other god and Jesus admonishes us to love God with our full self, so must we give such priority to Jesus.
In practical terms this means that our will must be subordinated to that of Christ. Whatever He says do, we do, wherever He says go, we go and so forth. When we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves and it is explained that pretty much everyone is our neighbor, then we are to do it. No longer do things like race, creed, color, lifestyle, income, status, etc. matter. They are our neighbor and we are to love them. This does not mean we condone sin and ignore vice, for truly loving someone may require dealing with such things, but it does mean that we are not free to view them personally with contempt or beyond the reach of God’s love or grace. We are to live this out being Christ’s hands, feet, and mouth. This is what it is to be the body of Christ and nothing or no one is to stand in our way.
It is these very principals which may lead one to become offended by Christ (Matthew 11) as He makes startling demands on our lives and He fails to live up to our meager expectations. Far to often we try to make Christ (God) in our image when it is we who were created in His and are being transformed into the image of Christ. We prefer a god we can control, who has the same view of life as we, that doesn’t challenge us, but this is a little god of our own making that has no power at all. Christ cannot and will not be so contained. It is us who must be transformed and conformed to His image and His will. This is not an easy process and takes a lifetime. It requires the work of the Spirit and must be repeated daily. It starts with a conscious effort to put Christ first in all things and a simple prayer that the Spirit would lead us in making Christ our number 1 priority. I invite you to join me in pursuit of this lofty goal and I truly believe that in so doing we will accomplish far more than we ever could on our own.