“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26 (ESV)
It’s probably not often enough that we take the time to consider what is really required of us to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. The cost of discipleship is rarely if ever the topic of our conversations. However, Jesus had some things to say about it and he didn’t mince words in the process. And what he had to say when he walked the earth remains relevant for us today.
Jesus words in Luke 14:26 seem a little harsh to our ears don’t they? We are supposed to hate our relatives, really? Doesn’t Jesus command us at other times to love everyone, even our enemies? Scripture commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. We are to nurture our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to honor our father and mother.
Well, what Jesus is actually saying in Luke 14:26 is that we should love our relatives less than we do him. In fact, the love we have for our relatives should resemble hate in comparison to our love for Christ. To be Christ’s disciple we are to be willing to obey him rather than them. We are to be willing, if God calls, to leave them behind to suffer and even die for the sake of the gospel.
I would suspect that for most of us family means more than anything else on earth. But we must be willing to forsake family in the pursuit and furtherance of the kingdom of God. We must determine now that Jesus is more precious to us than our wives, kids, brothers, sisters, moms and dads. We must determine now that we will not compromise our convictions to keep from losing our kids. We must determine now that we will not deny Christ in order to save the life of a family member.
Jesus said we must even hate our own lives. His straightforward words run counter to today’s culture. We can’t spend five minutes on the television, internet or any social media outlet without seeing an advertisement for something that improves our lives. Billions of dollars are spent every year on products to make us look better and feel better about ourselves.
This gospel of self-gratification has even spilled over into the church. Preachers have turned the gospel of Christ-centeredness into one of “What can Jesus do for me?” Some preachers have become no more than self-help, motivational speakers who peddle a health, wealth, prosperity gospel that promises us our best life now.
However, to truly be disciples of Jesus, he, not we, must be preeminent in our lives. In his book The Cost, Steven J. Lawson wrote, “A genuine follower of Jesus Christ cannot love himself supremely. For any authentic disciple, Christ must be the number one affection. This is the supreme loyalty that He requires. . . . Jesus does not want a mere place in our lives He demands the preeminence.”
Jesus pulled no punches when he gave us the mandate for discipleship. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39 ESV) This may mean death itself, but it definitely means death to self.
That is the cost of discipleship. Have you counted it?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Corinthians 15:31