Full-scale missional work, as we see in Matthew 10:37-39, moves from love to sacrifice. He who loves anyone more than me, Jesus says, is not worthy of me. Anyone is clear, and a very forceful. But…
But what is striking to me is that Jesus sees the relationship of his missioners to be one of love for him. Love — which Jesus repeated daily in the Shema (Jesus Creed) — is the foundational core of the missioners life. And it is a love for Jesus.
How do we love Jesus? We love him by listening to him, by speaking with him, by following him, and by doing what he has given us the vocation to do. To swipe some terms from my book, to love Jesus is to yearn for, pray for (to in a trinitarian sense), and work for Jesus in all we do and say and are. (I’d suggest a good slow read of 1 John on this.)
Love, it should be observed, precedes sacrifice, though some make sacrifice the primary issue. Next Jesus says that genuine missional disciples take up the cross for Jesus and surrender their lives for Jesus. Notice: “the one who destroys his life for me/because of me will find his life.”
The issue, again, is not commitment to a cause, it is not radical implication in a vision, nor is it mental surrender to an idea. It is loving Jesus — which can then be about casuses, visions, and mental systems. But not until then.
The relationship precedes the sacrifice in genuine missional work.
This so hits home: it is always easy to turn Kingdom work into a cause or an issue or a mental system, but if it is not first and foremost personal — radically personal — it becomes vacuous (in the sense of empty).
Perhaps this is why Jesus asked Peter on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, “Do you love me?” Peter got it right this time. “Yes, Lord, I do.” Later that night, I suspect, dancing shadows could be seen near the fire. Peter knew he was back on track at the personal level and it made his feet Light.