We, in the church, have a tendency toward taming God, making God seem more comfortable and controlled than radical, dangerous, and unpredictable. When we look at the actual words of Jesus, they call his followers to a revolutionary way of life that will definitely leave them outcasted by normal society, and possibly leave them dead. I don't think it is a strange coincidence that all but one of the 12 disciples (John), plus Paul and many others, end up losing their lives for the sake of the good news of Christ. The gospel is dangerous. The gospel gets people in trouble. The gospel speaks a radically political message of rejecting the status quo. The gospel must always lead us toward the end of our existence as a way of experiencing true life. That's its nature.
Yet, we resist danger and uncomfort at all costs. We avoid the chaos of the cross like the plague. Even in a country that generally embraces the Christian faith, we find ourselves terrified at the thought of taking the message of Jesus seriously. It asks all of us. It asks for control of our words and our actions and our time and our money. It demands we re-think everything, that we take up our cross and embrace death as a path toward life. That's daunting.
But what if we did it? What if we caught a glimpse of the fullness of life that comes when the Kingdom of God crashes into this world, into our everyday lives? What if we willingly sacrificed everything, trusting God's word that we'll receive far more in our submission than our resistence, self-preservation, and greed? What if we truly lived into the beautiful paradox that the last will be first and the first will be last, that the greatest in the Kingdom of God are the least? What if we finally took God at God's word, trusting it is good and beautiful and just, capable of thwarting evil and pain and injustice?