Chances are, you did the whole parade-watching, watermelon-eating, fireworking 4th of July routine this week. Unless, of course, you live in Texas or Oklahoma where it’s so dry things might start self-combusting soon. In that case, just replace fireworks with homemade ice cream instead. Burn ban. Bummer.
While you were waving your little made-in-China American flag, did you have any fleeting thoughts about our founding fathers? Call me a nerd if you must (I don’t mind), but I did think about those guys. It’s easy to gloss over history with the well-rehearsed stories that we’ve heard over the years: George Washington/cherry trees, Ben Franklin/electrified kites, John Hancock/excellent handwriting, Paul Revere/lanterns, etc. The stories are so familiar that we sometimes forget how GUTSY those guys must have been. It’s not every day you decide to commit treason and risk imprisonment! They put their property of the line. They put their family name on the line. They put their lives on the line.
We like to be all “Oh, I’d do that,” but would we really?
I don’t know about you, but I think living in modern America where everything is easy-peasey has made me a gutless wonder.
I’ve never had to stand up for my beliefs in a way that might cost me friends or freedom. The hard choices that I have experienced have been limited to deciding which restaurant we will eat at or which pair of pants I should wear. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I distinctly remember bawling after learning that Cassie Bernall said “yes” and I was left wondering, WWMD: What would Megan do? Would I be that brave or would I totally wimp out? I feared it would be the latter.
Plus, I’ve come to the awful discovery that, despite what I say, I am a people pleaser at heart. That makes it even harder to bravely take a stand.
For those of us who have grown up in the faith, who have heard the old, old stories a bazillion times with or without flannelgraphs, it’s easy to forget that when Saul became a Paul, he was basically cutting himself off from every meaningful relationship in his life and became a hunted man. The disciple Peter was a married man; can you imagine what his wife was thinking when he wandered off with a man who claimed to be the Son of God? Just last week, I learned that when Luke included the story about a paralytic named Aeneas, he was basically slamming the Roman government, saying that Rome was crippled and in need of a savior. (Using the name Aeneas would be like using “George Washington” had an American written Acts. Aeneas comes from The Aeneid, the mythical story of Rome’s founding, though that’s not saying that the paralytic was not a real guy.). That was a gutsy move; you didn’t mess with Rome!
I’ve always grimaced when reading Luke 14:26. Jesus said,
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
Why would He–the guy who lobbied for love–want me to hate my own family? But I think I’m starting to see things a little clearer now. Maybe He was just giving everybody a heads up. A modern paraphrase: “Hey, guys…this is not going to be easy, you know. You are going to be disowned by your family, and you are going to have to be okay with that. You are going to have to make some really hard choices and sever some really important relationships. You are going to have to give up a lot to follow me. Do you have the guts to do it?”
Do we? I wish I knew, but I’m glad that I haven’t been put in the position to find out…I think.
Do you have guts? What do you think about Luke 14:26?