The Word Among Us

May 2024 Issue

Hard Sayings From a Loving God

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Hard Sayings From a Loving God: Dear Brothers and Sisters,

God’s word is filled with so many reassuring promises. In it, the Lord tells us, “I have called you by name: you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). His word assures us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us” (Psalm 103:12). But at the same time, Jesus challenged his disciples, and us, with words that can sometimes sound too hard. It’s no wonder that many people eventually “returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (John 6:66).

The Hard Sayings of Jesus. In this issue of The Word Among Us, our founding publisher, Joe Difato, helps us dig into some of these hard sayings. First, he helps us ponder Jesus’ saying, “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’” (Matthew 10:35—see page 4). Any of us who have experienced ruptured relationships within our families know how painful it can be. Jesus knows that sometimes these ruptures happen over issues of faith, and he wants to help us find the right way to continue to love our family members when that happens.

In the second essay (see page 10), we look at Jesus’ saying, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). Jesus wants us to hold all things loosely, including our money, our reputation, and our security—anything that we treasure more than Jesus. How hard it can be to be willing to “lose” these things for Jesus!

And lastly (see page 16), we hear Jesus tell us to be welcoming to each other, no matter who we are: “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40). My reaction? “Okay, Lord, you gave up everything for me. Is this what I must do to ‘receive’ others? You have welcomed me into your kingdom. Must I also welcome people into my ‘kingdom’?”

Jesus Led the Way. Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything that he didn’t do himself. He held his own position in heaven loosely and humbled himself to become a man, living like a servant in this world. He sacrificed his reputation and allowed himself to be treated as a common criminal. With open arms, he welcomed sinners, even prostitutes and tax collectors. This couldn’t have been easy. Jesus took up his cross every day and obeyed the will of his Father. And he asks you and me—he urges us—to do the same.

The good news is that Jesus lives in us through the Holy Spirit. So even in our weakness and sinfulness, he can give us his strength to say yes to him and to abandon ourselves fully to his will. Yes, brothers and sisters, this is a high calling, impossible for any of us to achieve on our own. But the grace and the presence of Jesus in our lives is more than enough for us to say, “Yes, Lord, I give you all of my life for the rest of my life.”

Jeff Smith, President
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