57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
There is something restless about Christian faith. We are not at peace with the world as it is; we are anticipating its redemption.
Jesus, of course, is speaking to a would-be follower who hasn’t considered the fundamental shift that has taken place with Christ. Before Christ, a person’s fundamental allegiance was to their family of origin. In Christ, one’s fundamental commitment is to the kingdom of God, the age to come, the new creation, the world made whole again.
Before Christ, existence revolved around your kin group. They were your identity, your support, your safety. Their ability to avenge a wrong kept others from harming you. Their status in the community provided your status. The food from their land was your food. But this would-be follower hasn’t counted the cost of making Christ his fundamental allegiance.
Christ calls his followers to “leave the dead to bury their dead,” refusing to play second fiddle to the culture when a man responds to Jesus’ summons by asking to first fulfill his filial obligation to his parents.
Jesus rejects the claim of his own family who come to “take him home” when his strange behavior begins to raise suspicions that he is possessed. He declares that the members of his kin group are those who do the will of God. Jesus says families will be divided two against three, and some will be killed by their own people.
This is a kind of all or nothing moment. Either you are with Jesus and God’s healing of the world or you are with the world and its brokenness. Either you take up the cross, the hostility of the world as it is, or you pick up stones to stone him. Either the new creation is dawning or we stake our claim on the old one – or, perhaps better, it stakes its claim on us.
Either you show allegiance to your enemies (love them) or you take no thought for them (hate them). Either you forgive those who sin against you or take your revenge. Either you share your abundance or build bigger barns. Either you are sons and daughters of the light or sons and daughters of the darkness.
This isn’t about professed religion or church membership; this is about allegiance to God’s healing of the world or allegiance to the world as is. Some of us are doing quite nicely in the world as it is. That’s why Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. We have to let go of the world as it is to take hold of the world that will be. We have to let go of injustice to lay hold of justice. We have to let go of violence to peacemakers. We have to let go of what Paul calls “the works of the flesh” (the deeds rooted in our fallen nature) to bear “the fruit of the Spirit.” “The night is far gone, the day is near;” “the hour has come” to wake from our slumber, to “put on the Lord Jesus,” to “lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
So we are not nestled down in the world. But neither are we waiting to escape it for the next. We are restless for the world to be made whole. We are restless for our hearts to be made whole. We are hungry for the banquet of heaven. We are seeking the reign of God. We are living its values, following its path, sowing its seed. We are agents of its healing, witnesses to its mercy, participants in its joy. We are shareholders in the new creation.