Read Luke 14:25-34.
Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Many people are shocked when they read these words. Wasn't Jesus all about love? Why would the Lord want His disciples to hate their families?
Jesus is not looking for disciples who want an easy sort of faith.
Jesus is saying that our love for Him should be so great that by comparison all our other relationships are held with an open hand. Important as they are, they are not as vital as our relationship with Christ.
Jesus is not looking for disciples who want an easy sort of faith. He's not interested in giving you your best life now. Jesus is interested in a supernatural takeover. He wants His disciples to know He is the sovereign Lord, the ruler, the master. He is the King.
Many people attend church, listen to the sermon half-heartedly, sing the songs because it feels good to do so, and then walk out the door and leave thoughts of Christ behind. They might sing, "I surrender all," but it might as well be "I surrender very little; I surrender what is easy." But being Jesus' disciple means giving Him our everything.
Of course, when we love Jesus more than anyone or anything, we find that our love for our family, our friends, our neighbors—even our enemies—grows by leaps and bounds. Jesus, then, is not promoting hatred; He's simply setting things in the right order. We are to love Him above all else.
Jesus also said, "[W]hoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (v. 27). Many people interpret the "cross" here as a burden they must carry in their lives. It might be a strained relationship or a thankless job or a physical illness. But that's not what Jesus meant.
Jesus was saying they must die to themselves. They must refuse to attempt to control their own destiny. In this way, death is a new way of life. Discipleship for the Christian is bringing one's life into conformity with Christ. It's sitting at His feet through the study of His Word. It's growing in knowledge and love. It is daily recognizing that our default nature is to pursue anything but Christ. And it is choosing instead to renew our minds daily, that we might conform our lives to Him who saved us.
Prayer: Jesus, help me to more fully understand Your calling on my life. May I lay my own ambitions at the cross and follow Your way. I want You to rule in my life—in every aspect. Help me to submit to You by the power of Your Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Enduring Wisdom: WATCH NOW