While drinking coffee and reading Matthew’s gospel one morning, I had a bizarre memory.
I stared at the safety on my submachine gun in the back of a dimly lit van while riding down a quiet, dark city street. Adjusting my helmet strap, I began to worry about my clear lenses fogging up.
As my SWAT team leader said, “Two minutes,” I knew, in a hundred and twenty seconds, one of my team members would be greeting those in the meth lab “good morning” with a crushing blow of the door, courtesy of a battering ram, and I would be rushing into the unknown behind the falling door.
This would be my first high-risk search warrant as a SWAT team member.
The safety on my submachine gun, months of training, and everything I had been told and scolded about were swirling through my mind.
One day of training stood out more than the others.
An early spring day just a few months prior, my team and I had been shooting at an outdoor range with real bullets, learning how to move like a SWAT team. As I moved and focused on where I was supposed to shoot, I failed to see where one of the other team members was moving, and for a split second the muzzle of my machine gun was pointed straight at my teammate.
It was a tiny, fluid slice of time coupled with the complex movement of men and bullets. My instructor, a legendary SWAT cop and Navy SEAL, saw it and yelled to kill the drill. He came over with such intensity I could draw every detail of his face now, nineteen-years later; if I could draw, that is.
He told me I could not “screw up like that again,” and if I did, not only was I done for the day, I was going to swim in the lake next to the range we were training at, IN my gear. The look on his face wasn’t condemning, but intense enough to leave no doubt another mistake would jeopardize my career as a SWAT cop before it even started.
During my devotional this morning, while reading Matthew 10, I read the words of Jesus to the Twelve and traveled back in time to my SWAT moment. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but Matthew 10 reveals an intensity in Jesus that honestly doesn’t make its way into many family ministry messages.
“The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”Matthew 10:37-38
As I reflected on the passage, I realized Jesus was deploying these men into His mission and knew it would be the hardest thing they’d ever aspire to do. This intense interaction seems counter to the way many of us view Jesus, but I see it as the preparation the Twelve needed to receive.
Jesus offers it to us as well.
In order to become who we were created to be, and have opportunities we were created to have, Jesus, must be our foundation.
It must only, ever, and always be about Jesus.
Jesus was deploying these men into His mission and knew it would be the hardest thing they’d ever aspire to do.
Really knowing Him for who He is, and what He’s done and doing, is the basis for us to have the law of love accomplished in and through us. Jesus isn’t teaching us not to love our families, but in order to do it well, we must love Him first.
To really love Jesus isn’t a destination but a journey. It’s not standing still but growing, changing, and going along with Him where He leads.
Said the wise C.S. Lewis, “Christianity isn’t a religion of works, but it is one of action.”
Jesus is still changing the world one life at a time and has grand plans for us to take part in it.
Moments after speaking these words to His disciples about loving and following Him, they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere. (Luke 9:6)
Jesus' SWAT-instructor-like pep talk lovingly prepared the Twelve for when He would ascend into heaven, leaving them to sustain the Church He started for the redemption of all things.