Following Christ requires endurance. Your faith may cost you much, but if you endure you will find the prize is worth the sacrifice.
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
When we first read this, we may take it to mean that Jesus calls us to reject our families for His sake. But we know it cannot mean this, because such a statement is opposed to Jesus’ statements about loving and caring for people.
Instead, Jesus Christ is referring to the very real cost of choosing to become a disciple. Jesus tells His disciples that they will be hated by the world because the world hates Him (John 15:18-19). That may even include members of our own household. This is why following Christ requires endurance.
Enemies in Your Own Household
Accepting Jesus and choosing to follow Him as a disciple will distance us from some – or perhaps all – of our earthly family. For some, like those who have been converted from another faith, this is already understood. Yet another reason to treat those from other faiths respectfully when we share Christ with them.
No, Jesus is not talking about walking away from our family. Instead, He is saying that to be His disciple means we stand at risk of losing those we hold dear for His sake.
Since Jesus tells us to love everyone, even our enemies, the rejection he describes is on the part of the world, because we choose Him.
When we take up our cross, we are identifying ourselves with the shame, humiliation, and hatred that the world aims at Jesus Christ. This is another reason why following Christ requires endurance. The more transparent we are for our faith, the more the world will make us suffer for it.
Jesus is talking specifically about family in today’s passage, but it can be anything that has been vital to our life before Christ. Losing our lives can mean our careers, homes, friends, family, comforts, anything.
Running the Race of Endurance
We may read or hear at some point about the victorious Christian life, and we ask ourselves how can it be victorious if we could lose so much?
Think about any athlete you have seen pass many trials, face many obstacles, overcome many adversaries, exhaust themselves beyond their limits. How do they look in their moment of triumph? Refreshed? Energetic?
No. They look sweaty. Dirty. Exhausted. Scarred. They look like they have been through the most painful moment of their life.
But they are also triumphant, celebratory. An athlete knows how precious a prize they have trained for. They know how precious of a prize they are attempting to attain. You can be sure that such a person sacrificed much to achieve their reward.
In the same way, we as believers endure pain, heartache, and setbacks for following Christ. What we receive for following Christ is more than worth the sacrifice (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Finishing the Race
If we are to endure as disciples, we must continue to abide with Christ. If we drift from Jesus or become apathetic and quit abiding in Him, we will begin to be lured away by the world and the things to which we used to hold dear.
Because following Christ requires endurance, we must maintain the disciplines of discipleship so that sin does not entangle us. This will help us to not grow weary in following Him (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Please, friend, let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our feet firmly planted on the path to salvation. In this way, we can endure this life and prepare for eternal life with Christ. Then we, like Paul can say that we have finished the race (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
More verses about endurance in following Christ:
Psalm 37:23-24; Isaiah 40:31; Romans 5:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:7-14; Colossians 3:23-24; James 1:12