This week’s study in the “Looking Along the Gospel” series is from Luke 14:25-33.
This portion of Scripture has been misunderstood by many. Apart from the Spirit’s indwelling, it will be misunderstood, and twisted. Before we start then, an important note: Jesus is LOVE, and does not teach us be or do anything opposed to His perfect love. God is the giver of all life, creator of all we see, hear, smell, taste and touch–the Giver of all good gifts; this passage is not a call to deny that. So what does He mean that His followers must “hate”?
Verses 25-26, we ‘hate’ in comparison with the depth of love we are called to.
We choose the one above all others, every time. To truly love God, means we will not love anyone more–however if we are His, then He fills us with His love; and we are finally able to love with true Love. Finally able.
Love outside of Christ is tainted by self, world, sin, etc. We can all think of a million little ways this can happen. Earthly love can seem pretty close, but it can never be pure as God’s love is. Disciples are called to love with His love, to have God’s love filtering all our words and deeds. Sharing that love will be beautiful, enriching, satisfying–but the world’s love can only hint at that.
This passage does not go against other passages of Scripture–and must be rightly be understood in light of the rest of Scripture. Jesus is not undoing Old Testament laws that instruct us to love, respect, honor, care for and delight in the fellowship of others. Rather, He is showing that those laws are only fulfilled in Him.
We come to Him, we love Him above all else, He fills us with His love, and then comes what Paul calls “the obedience of faith” wherein we can love, respect, honor, care for and delight in the fellowship of others within Christ’s Body. Christ the Head, over all. Us, His body, loving Him first and foremost. Not letting earthly relationships dictate how we love God, keeping our love for God as the primary love and cause of all other loves.
For further thought, read 1 Timothy 5:8 and 1 John 4:20. These are in harmony with what Jesus is teaching in this passage. If you are a disciple (a follower, a learner at the feet of Jesus, one who finds your lifesource-meaning-and purpose in Christ alone) then you will love and care for families and especially the brethren.
The Cross, your cross
Verse 27, Jesus instructs His disciples that discipleship includes carrying your cross. The original audience understood this meant a death sentence. Death to self.
This is echoed in most NT epistles–death to self, death to the old man, crucified with Christ, crucified to the passions and desires that were once ours, crucified to the world… “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal bodies.” (see 2 Corinthians 4:6-12; see also here.)
How do we always carry this about? This is akin to Paul’s instructions to “put off” the old man (Ephesians and Colossians). It is also carried out as we heed to Romans 6:11 and Colossians 3:5.
Chew on these ideas. Consider yourself dead to sin. Consider your mind, body, and heart as dead to “immorality, impurity, passion (over-desires that control you), evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
Add this ‘considering’ into your life as a spiritual habit, a means of grace, a way of seeking Him and letting go of everything contrary. Considering these things leads to reassuring our hearts that (see Colossians 2:10) we are complete in Christ. Complete. This frees us to stop striving! Letting go of lesser passions, and being filled with the love and passion and desires that He awakens in us will prove to be more deeply satisfying.
Counting the cost of discipleship means we are willing to examine all our “loves” whether people or ideas, see which are eternal and which are merely earthly; see which hinder us from clinging to Christ and which encourage us to. Have any become idols? Have any prescribed a way of living that is ungodly, un-Christ-like? Do any lay claim to your affections such that you can no longer ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’?
Vs 34 Finally Jesus instructs us that it is not only people or ideas, but also possessions that can hinder us from true discipleship. Things can lay claim to our heart, our allegiance, our time and resources, such that we only half-heartedly follow Him. All or nothing–He wants your whole heart. But choosing to be naked, homeless and starving to death would not actually be obeying Him. Giving up our possessions means once again to give Him first place in your ordering of life, rather than letting your things, or your means of earning things, order your service and honor toward God.
Paul’s list in Philippians 3:7-11 demonstrates this. He was from a fine family, the best tribe, he kept the law perfectly, was the very best pharisee…yet all that was nothing in light of knowing Christ. Knowing Christ was better, sweeter, more desirable than all he had worked towards in life. He echoes this in his teachings to the Corinthians, when he tells them to use things as though they didn’t have them.
In other words–consider eternal things eternal, consider earthly things as non-eternal. This world is passing away, do not act as though it isn’t. We need a new heaven and earth–so set your heart and mind on Christ, while using or enjoying earthly positions or possessions. Do not idolize the earthly believing any of it could bring eternal satisfaction. (see 1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
This is our discipleship, until Christ returns or takes us home. Romans 8:22-25:
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, haing the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Persevere in this, brethren. Your hope is not in vain. We who wait upon the LORD will not be disappointed. Our hope is sure, as an anchor for our souls. What He has prepared for us is beyond our wildest imagination, no eye has seen what has been prepared for us. While we wait, we abide, we hope, we persevere. We follow Christ.