Sometimes Jesus says pretty hard things like:
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… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14: 26 and 33)
That is a hard, hard saying, in my estimation.
I do know that when I became a believer in Jesus, my family thought I was bit nuts. I didn’t, however, abandon Jesus to win their favor. And had I been forced to chose, I would have gone with Jesus. So you could say that I chose Him over them.
But did I “hate” them?
And do I hate my own life? Have I truly renounced all that I have?
Am I a disciple? Or not?
Time to pull out the commentaries!
Ok, the ESV Study Bible says that “‘hating’ is a Semitic [Hebrew and Arabic] expression for loving less.” Well, that’s good to know!
I need to love my physical family and my life less than I love Jesus if I am His disciple. Another commentary (New International Commentary, Joel Green, p. 565) suggests that these phrases communicate a “reconstruction of one’s identity” around Christ and His family. Totally makes sense to me.
And the ESV Study Bible says that “renouncing all” is a way of saying “complete commitment.” And Joel Green says:
Accordingly, the distinctive property of the disciples is the abandonment with which they put aside all competing securities in order that they might refashion their lives and identity according to the kingdom of God. (p. 567)
In other words, a disciple is willing to give up anything that defines him or her in order to find his or her identity in Jesus.
Well, I’ve heard all that before. But what does it mean for me TODAY as I follow Jesus?
Here’s what I think. I spend a good bit of my time thinking about ME, about how to do what I need to do, about my needs and concerns, about my fears, about how to be a better me, about my responsibilities. Generally, I’m pretty ME focused. To some extent, that’s just part of keeping alive, making life move forward at work and at home. And I’m also pretty focused on relieving emotional pain or finding emotional joy. I think that’s the human condition.
So, how do I deliberately work to be Christ-focused, to find my identity in Him, to lose all for Him, to love Him above all?
I think part of it is recognizing his constant presence (like I blogged about yesterday). If I imagine Jesus as there all the time, I’m less likely to focus on me. Cause it would be just plain rude to walk along with someone and act like they are not there!
And another part of it is consciously thinking how to live in a way that brings honor to God, to be aware of obedience, of wanting to reflect His glory, of putting Him in the center of all I think and do. The first part – imagining Him beside me – leads to the second part – putting the focus on Him.
That’s all I can come up with tonight (it’s late).
Dear Lord: Help me to hate all things compared to you and to relinquish all things to find You. Tall order, huh?? Amen!