Imagine this, a rising star who is steadily drawing in more and more crowds stops one day and says, “Love me more than any other, even your family. You should love me so much that it looks like you hate your own life, or you’re not worthy of me.”
What would your reaction be?
Jesus said something like it in Luke 14:25-35. Verse 33 sums it up rather well.
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
What Did Jesus Mean?
Let’s unpack it a bit. How does it affect us? Every Christian is to be a disciple (Matthew 28:19), while the cost of salvation is free to us, the cost of following Jesus is all of you. He wants all of you, not just a part of you, a deep faith rather than a superficial faith. Julian Barnes, an agnostic, wrote in Nothing To Be Frightened Of…
What’s the point of faith unless you and it are serious—seriously serious—unless your religion fills, directs, stains and sustains your life?
Hard stuff, so what’s it mean? Jesus often taught that nothing should get between people and him. It sounds like egomania until you consider two things: he’s God, and he gave up everything for you when he went to the cross.
The first of the Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) The greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Let’s Dig Deeper
On a theological footing, it’s not egomania unless he was only a man. Personally, he’s God the Son who stepped out of the riches and power of heaven into the poverty and weakness of humanity. He already gave everything up before he asked you to. Then he died so you can have eternal life.
I don’t think total commitment is too much to ask for. It’s still hard, though.
Paul clarifies what it means in Philippians 3:7-8, that nothing is greater than our relationship with Christ. He considered everything he was, is, and had done, rotting garbage in comparison. Consider this, the more you love Christ, the more you can love other things. I’ve found that I have much more love now than I had before.
What Did This Mean Then and What Does It Mean Now?
Let’s think for a moment, what it meant then and what it means now. The 1st Century Jewish culture emphasized family, that was their legacy and reputation. Jesus told them to hate their family. They knew it was hyperbole to make an extreme point, but he still told them his honor had to come before their honor and legacy. Remember, honor was everything in the culture.
In application, it’s recognizing Jesus is worth everything, and unreservedly committing yourself to him.
In our highly individualized Western culture, surrender is hard to swallow. I like to be in control, we like to be in control. We want it our way, and we want it now. Our half-heartedness can be chalked up to the culture, human nature, and our short attention spans.
To summarize, nothing and no one should keep you from following Jesus. I admit, while my relationship is growing, I drop my cross too. I have to deal with my own half-heartedness.
There is hope, Jesus is full of mercy and grace, he will forgive when we ask. The Holy Spirit is working inside every Christian, empowering them to walk the walk. Even the disciples had their ups and downs. It’s part of being human, we won’t reach perfection until Heaven. But, we’ll make progress, though.
Have you counted the cost?