“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Christianity is not for the faint of heart. It is the most radical of all the religions. Its costs dearly, yet also blesses abundantly. Here in Luke 14, we count the cost, and trust the blessing.
Jesus here says one of the most radical things in the Bible: we should in fact “hate” the things and people we love most. He is not however, literally commanding us to hate our parents, spouses, and children for his sake. He is making a comparison by contrast. Compared to loving Jesus, even our best and most loving relationships should look like hate. And he is not referring to those times when you aren’t particularly getting along with your spouse, or when your children are being particularly disobedient. Think of the most blissful relational times in your life. A time when your child made you immensely proud, or when your spouse made your heart sing. Jesus says, “you must want me more.” Our love for him must so swallow that for our loved ones that our love for them looks like hate. He goes on to describe just what this looks like in every day life: counting the cost. We must consider, weigh, and assess just what following Christ is going to cost us. Have you considered lately what Jesus is requiring of you?
To most western, individualistic Americans, this sounds absolutely ridiculous. It is a total invasion of our person-hood. And yet, is that not what being a follower of Christ is? He saves the whole self, and then demands the whole self be his. He invades the core of who we are, and when we hold nothing back from him, there he plants a deep and abiding joy. The call is simple: COUNT THE COST. Trust him. Love him. Cling to him. Adore him. Obey him. For as Bonhoeffer said, “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die.”