25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus Tells Disciples to Hate Their Families
This seems particularly poignant on our Gotcha Day for Amelia Lixin. Does God really want us to hate her? Isn’t this the same Jesus who told us that the Greatest Commandment was to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength? Isn’t Jesus’ second commandment that we should love our neighbor?
A cynic would say that this is just one more obvious contradiction in the Bible. They don’t want to subject themselves to anyone but themselves so they quickly dismiss scripture whenever they can. Others might say that this shows religious bigotry and hatred. Jesus himself wasn’t all that we think he was! He told people to hate. Now his disciples hate gays and transvestites, so they are just following the footsteps of their screwed up leader.
A more patient and scholarly approach sees these statements as comparative. In other words Jesus is saying that the love for neighbor is compared to the love for God as hate is compared to love. The distance between one’s commitment to Jesus and one’s commitment to anything or anyone else is as vast as anything one can imagine. If this is the requirement, who wants to live for someone else with the kind of abandon that Jesus requires here? Who wants to live for Jesus in such a way that they put themselves aside? Who wants to live for Jesus in such a way that they kill their deep instincts of self-preservation and self-obsession? This is still radically counter cultural and talks about a step that most Christians have not addressed. Ironically Jesus says that Christian disciples ought to consider this step before they even get started. When God demands everything a potential disciple needs to consider if they will give up everything.
A disciple does not lose their salvation if they cease to walk like a disciple, but they become useless. Their salvation becomes narcissistic or pointless. We are saved for God and we commit everything to Jesus. We walk in his way and he leads us on the way of the cross. Is Jesus that much to you? If he is not you are not worthy of him. Period.
Jesus you are winsome and kind and patient and you are severe and uncompromising and demanding. Help me to step up to your challenge knowing that you equip those who follow you to succeed.
- Why does Jesus tell his disciples to hate?
- What does it mean to take up a cross?
- What happens to an unsalty disciple?
- How much commitment was required of you at conversion?
- How committed are you to the cause now?