Resetting Our Priorities
“He who has found his life ill lose it, but he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:32-39 is a difficult passage, not because it is difficult to interpret or understand, but because the implications of the course for how we live are profound, challenging us to examine every decision we make. It is a passage that confronts our priorities and whole life orientation. It challenges us to rethink all our priorities to bring them under the authority of Christ.
In the previous verses, Jesus challenged his followers to be bold in their testimony regardless of the opposition they faced. Now, Christ challenges us to rethink all our priorities. He begins with a statement that causes us to pause and examine our faith. The word “Shall confess me” goes far beyond verbal consent to being a disciple of Christ. The idea behind the idiom indicates an attitude in which a person identifies unity with Christ and takes an open stand of allegiance with Christ. The implication is that he identifies with us when we identify with Christ. Just as we affirm our relationship with him, he demonstrates his commitment to us. But there is also a caveat. If we deny Christ, that is, if we allow fear and intimidation to pressure us to repudiate our relationship publicly, to fail to demonstrate our faith in Christ visibly, is to risk being rejected by Christ. Christ demands loyalty and commitment from those who desire to follow him.
To further highlight the importance of absolute fidelity to Christ, Christ compares the most basic human relationships. We often affirm the saying, “Blood is thicker than water.” In other words, family relationships are more important than any other relationship. Christ draws this comparison to point to the supremacy of our relationship with him. The fact Christ makes in verses 35-36 is not that he would intentionally divide families, but that when we give our allegiance to Christ, our relationship with him takes the highest priority, even over our family relationships. He further highlights this in verse 37, stating that we are to love him more than our closest family. Christ is not saying we should dishonor or reject family, which would contradict his moral law and the command to honor our father and mother. He is saying that in the priority list of life and relationships, Christ must remain in the first place. He comes before all others. This is not only true of our relationships but also regarding all aspects of life. When confronted with the choice of loyalty between Christ and an unbelieving family, the choice remains clear: he must stay in the first place.
This is true in all aspects of life. To take up our cross is to be willing to die for Christ; it is to make Christ even more important than life itself. Too often, we allow Christ to slip into our priorities. He becomes secondary to our dreams, our plans, and our desires. Jesus challenges us to look at the choices we make daily. When we make choices, is our relationship with him the governing basis by which those choices are made? Do we desire to follow Christ more than anything else? This includes our time and activities. Yet, how often, when things conflict with church and our involvement in church, we choose other things rather than the church? Today, look at the priorities you are setting and the order by which you govern our activities and spend your time and money. No matter how successful we have been in life, even if we attain greatness in the eyes of men, if we fail in our relationship with Christ, we lose life. In all things, Christ must be our high priority.