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(Part 106)


November 5, 2014
Today’s gospel: Luke 14:25-33

Discipleship is not easy. The demands of the Kingdom are very challenging. We of course have no choice but to follow Jesus, but to follow Jesus in the right way is often not understood by most. Many are just trying to coast along, living their comfortable lives. When we make decisions in the world, we properly assess the situation first. When we construct a tower we must first calculate the cost (v.28). When we march into battle we must assess if we can withstand a stronger force (v.31). So we must know and properly assess the demands of discipleship, and then make our decision to truly follow Jesus.

So what is true discipleship? It is total dedication to Jesus and his call. What does that entail?

One, we must not be attached to family. This does not mean family is unimportant. It is, very much so. But oftentimes we use family to keep us from following Jesus more closely or more radically. And so Jesus shocks us with his radical teaching. “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (v.26). Jesus does not tell us to hate our closest relatives, as we know we are to love them. In Semitic usage, to “hate” means to “love less.” So we love God with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength. That leaves no room for such love in the same category. So even as we care for and love our family, it should take second place to Jesus. But oftentimes, we use family as our excuse not to serve, or not to be faithful to community life and meetings. How then can Jesus use us in any which way?

Two, we must not be attached to possessions. Now possessions are important to keep up the life of the family and even the community, and are God’s gifts for us. But again, oftentimes possessions are what keep us from fully serving God. We even steal from God by not giving a tithe back to Him. Thus Jesus tells us, “everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (v.33). We are to renounce all. Jesus teaches us that we cannot serve God and mammon. Possessions will always have a strong influence on us, whether it is a decision to serve God or work more in order to earn more, whether it is a decision to use more of our money for the work of the Kingdom or just for our own needs and wants.

Three, we must be ready to accept suffering and persecution. The authentic gospel is that of the cross. Jesus went to the cross, and invites us to follow him. Thus he tells us, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (v.27). But there are so many Christians who look for more comfort and convenience in life, and disdain the cross. If we are so, Jesus cannot really use us. When the work becomes difficult and challenging, we readily give up. In fact, the more we enter into the authentic Christian life and mission, the more intense will be the assault of the enemy, and thus the more we will be battered and bruised. We must see this as blessings, as suffering purifies us, brings us closer and more dependent on God, humbles us, and allows us the privilege of participating in the cross of Jesus.

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