Summary: When you experience conflict as a result of following Jesus, you are not headed in the wrong direction. Instead that’s a sign you are being faithful to the Gospel.
Last week we learned if we are going to commit to following Jesus then we need to make sure we know what we’re signing up for because following Jesus can lead to pretty hazardous work. When you follow Jesus, you surrender your will, you surrender your freedom, you surrender your plans and you surrender all your life all for the mission of Jesus, knowing that the only thing that really matters is faithfulness to that mission is sharing the Good News and doing the will of the Father. That often means taking great risks for the sake of the kingdom. Today’s message focuses on the world’s response to such actions. If we are faithful and obedient to His message and His mission, we will experience conflict. I want to be clear that we are not talking about drama. Drama is what we bring upon ourselves. The conflict that Jesus is talking about results from the collision of two totally different worldviews: the Kingdom of Heaven and the world’s. Jesus wants us to understand that when we make the decision to follow him, we are committing to live a life that in almost every way is contrary to the culture we live in.
God's word for us this morning is this: when you experience conflict as a result of following Jesus, you are not headed in the wrong direction. Instead that’s a sign you are being faithful to the Gospel. Paul believed that if he wasn’t experiencing conflict in his life and ministry then he wasn’t being faithful to the Gospel. When the disciples first heard these words from Jesus to expect opposition, it caught them off guard. In the first half of his sermon in chapter 10, Jesus tells the disciples he is going to share his power and authority with them which will enable him to do the very things Jesus did: heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead. Then suddenly Jesus’ instructions turn a sharp corner from what the disciples were going to do to what was going to happen to them when they were about His work. Jesus talks about conflict, persecution, hatred and even imprisonment. Imagine how shocked the disciples must have been. This wasn’t what they signed up for!
Now for those of us who have been following Jesus Christ, we can probably relate. You know there are those “Oh no!” moments we have, when we realize that Jesus has called us to do more than attend worship. He has invited us on a journey that is going to require us to take on a worldview and a life that in every way stands in contrast to the culture we live in. Rather than the journey of faith being about what Jesus is going to do for us, Jesus is talking about what we will do for Him and the price that comes with it, specifically persecution, conflict and hatred. Is that what you signed up for? Jesus came preaching a message that almost in every way went directly against the ways of the world. That’s why Jesus was sent to the cross. So we shouldn’t be that surprised when we’re faithful to the Gospel that we experience conflict too.
But the reality is someone experiencing the kind of conflict that Jesus is talking about isn’t something that we’re all that familiar with. We don’t expect to get beaten, arrested, dragged into court or thrown into jail because we believe in Jesus. We live in a much more tolerant society where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are protected than the one that Jesus was speaking to. But is that the case? Instead, could the reason we don’t experience this kind of conflict have something to do with the fact that we have compromised what it means to follow Jesus Christ? Is our society really that tolerant, or are we that watered down? Let’s think about this for a second. We live in a consumer society that worships at the feet of materialism and values money and possessions. Jesus teaches us to be radically generous and to live simply. We live in a culture that idolizes the individual. Jesus calls us to become other focused. We live in a culture which says serve your own needs but Jesus calls us to be a servant of others. Our culture tells us that faith is a private matter and it’s not politically correct to talk about it. Jesus tells us that sharing our faith and the Good News should be the first priority of our lives. We live in a culture which says coming to worship is enough when Jesus says, I want your Sunday worship and the rest of your life to be your worship of me too. So you tell me, if the Kingdom of Heaven and the call of Jesus stand in such drastic opposition to the culture we live in, why don’t we experience more conflict in our lives? Is our society really that tolerant, or are we just that watered down? In other words, are we living more like the culture we live in or more like Jesus?