Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy.
Hard words indeed. In fact if they weren’t said by Christ himself, we might question whether or not they were actually Christian at all. Christ is about love, and meekness, and compassion, yet he said “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God.” (Matthew 10:34-39)
Very hard words.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” That is a quote, not from Jesus Christ, but from Winston Churchill, but I think it helps us understand today’s reading.
If you have enemies it means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life. There are many things a Christian must stand up for, and therefore being a Christian can sometimes mean you attract enemies. Your life is not cozy when you have enemies.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution [, said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:10-12.] The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
There are things you stand for when you are a Christian—things like love, and compassion, and meekness—and because you stand for those things people sometimes don’t like you.
Between us, my husband Michael and I run Faith and Pride. We believe that you can be gay and Christian. That is what we stand for when we stand in our pink hoodies. As you can imagine that attracts a certain amount of negative attention, both from the Old-Testament-placard-waving and tract-distributing Christians that everyone in Belfast is familiar with, and from gay people who are aggressively secular, the gay people who would prefer that Christ is completely absent from Pride Week.
I won’t lie. That negative attention can be very wearing at times.
Don’t think that I have come to make life cozy.
Those aren’t really hard words. Like everything else Christ said, they are words of compassion. Like Winston Churchill, Jesus knew that standing for something means you make enemies. He warned us about that. When your life as a Christian is difficult, because of your Christian stance on any issue, we can be comforted in the knowledge that these difficulties were not unexpected. “What it means [said Jesus] is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds.”
Being a Christian isn’t always easy. Walking as Christ would have us walk, turning the other cheek and forgiving seventy times seven is hard in and of itself. Somewhat oddly, that meekness sometimes gives us enemies. When those enemies make our walk difficult we should remember that, because it is a Christian walk, all heaven applauds.