We live in a nation that loves a good deal. Hardly anyone wants to pay full price. So we wait for our favorite store to have a sale. Go to garage sales. Look on E-bay. Or surf the web for an internet deal.
The craziness on Black Friday, the crowds at after Christmas sales, and the shoppers at tax-free weekends all attest to the bargain hunter mindset. And their mantra is simple–To get the best quality merchandise for the lowest possible price.
Unfortunately, this mentality sometimes surfaces regarding spiritual matters. Some folks want to receive the most they can get while giving the very least they can get by with.
God is not in the business of making you a deal. Spiritual blessings, forgiveness of sins and communion with the Creator comes with a price to be paid. He made salvation available by giving the greatest sacrifice possible. Jesus’ death on the cross.
In turn, He calls for our commitment, consecration, and sacrifice. In a shocking and striking passage, Jesus speaks to the cost of discipleship.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:26-27).
These seemingly radical words almost grate on our ears. Hate? Hate your parents? Hate your spouse? Hate your siblings? Really? That doesn’t sound like Jesus, does it?
We need to be reminded that Eastern language often spoke in vivid and colorful extremes to make a point. Jesus is not literally saying that we should harbor ill will, animosity, and antagonism toward others. That would violate the second commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39). As well as numerous New Testament passages about the love we ought to express in our families.
Furthermore, the context tells us that when Jesus left the Pharisees’ house that a great crowd of people followed Him. Apparently, Jesus was not impressed with their superficial interest. As on other occasions, some may have followed because he fed folks. Or to see a miracle. Or hoping He was the Messiah that would overthrow Rome and restore the nation of Israel to greatness.
Jesus was not interested in the quantity of the crowd but the quality of their character and commitment. Discipleship, he tells them, is not for the faint of heart. The casual Christian. Or the bargain hunter. There is a price to be paid.
Your love for the Lord must supersede all fleshly and family relationships. Our love for Christ must be so deep and strong that by comparison we “hate” our own family. Even our own life.
The word “disciple” is the most common Bible name for a follower of Christ. In it used 270 times in the Gospels and the book of Acts. It describes a pupil. A learner. One who is willing to be trained to be like his Master.
Furthermore, Jesus said discipleship involved bearing His cross. Not some self-inflicted “cross” we create for ourselves, but His cross. One writer put it this way, “It means daily identification with Christ in shame, suffering, and surrender to God’s will. It means death to self, to our own plans and ambitions, and a willingness to serve Him as He directs.”
To illustrate the cost of discipleship, Jesus gave two illustrations. One of a man building a tower, and another of a king fighting a war. Each must “count the cost” before building or fighting. Before we begin, we should be sure we’re willing to finish. To see it through. To be faithful until death.
Christ is not interested in half-hearted, self-seeking, bargain hunting followers who are not willing to pay the full price.
What about you? Will you be his Disciple?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman