The Cost of Discipleship: Placing Christ First.
Read: Luke 14:25-33
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
How could Christ, one whose message was grounded in love, command us to hate? When we read Christ’s words in Luke 14:25-33, they are troubling, for he tells us that anyone “who does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, cannot be his disciple.” How do we understand this statement, especially when Christ commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)? To understand this verse, we must understand the context of both the parallel passage and the Jewish perspective. In the parallel passage in Matthew 10:27, Matthew uses the word love rather than hate, “He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” The point Christ is making in both Matthew and Luke is one of priority and loyalty. In this context, the word “hate” does not mean that we are to despise or have strong feelings of animosity towards them. Instead, he uses the word in the sense of “loving less.” We see the same example in Genesis 29:31 when it speaks of Jacob’s greater love for Rachael than Leah. The issue is not one of love and loyalty to one and despising and abhorring others, but rather one of priority in relationships.
Throughout his peaching, Christ calls upon us to love others, even our enemies. But our love for others is not to take precedence or priority over our commitment to Christ. Our allegiance is ultimately to be in Christ. He has already warned us that to follow him is to risk rejection by others, even by our own family. (see Mark 6:3; John 15:18ff). We see the whole reality of this in many Islamic countries in which to embrace Christ is to incur the wrath and rejection of your family. Following Christ can be costly. People will reject us because we represent and identify with Christ, whom they have rejected. Therefore, to become a disciple of Christ is to make our relationship with him the highest priority.
The importance of following Christ no matter what the cost—even if it costs us relationships dear to us—is the point that Christ then highlights in the next verse. He uses two illustrations, a builder constructing a tower and a king going into battle. Both require careful planning. If a person does not calculate the costs, the results will be disastrous. So it is also true in our relationship with Christ. To embrace Christ without first understanding, the cost of complete devotion to him will set us up for failure in our spiritual life. When we become his disciple, Jesus asks for the total surrender of everything to him. Our devotion to him is to be absolute and more critical than any other relationship, possession, activity, or accomplishment.
To follow Christ is to place our whole life at his disposal and direction. Before you begin each day, first give the day entirely to him. Ask him to guide your day and direct your activities to be in alignment with his will. Surrender all that you have, all that you are, and all that you do to his purpose and the advancement of his kingdom. In the end, we will find that by giving up all to Christ, we lose nothing but gained everything.