“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. 27And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” ( Luke 14:26-27)
These words spoken by Jesus in the above scripture, if taken literally, may sound rather harsh and insensitive. This is why we need to understand the context with which this statement was made.
Jesus spoke these words at a time when many people were trooping after Him. They had seen Him work miracles and the ones who had not seen Him, had heard stories of what He had done and travelled great distances just to see Him do the great things they heard about.
That looks a lot like the rate of attendance most of churches experience at the end of the year, notably on 31st December. Even drunks somehow find the way to church on that last day of the year, hoping that they would find favour in the year to come.
Following Christ is more than just wishful thinking. It is more than just human determination. It starts with a decision that is predicated on a person knowing that he cannot help himself, to trust in the saving power of Jesus.
The new man now progresses into a ‘disciple’ which means, a follower, a student who accepts the teaching of his master and chooses not only to follow it but also to share the knowledge obtained with others.
A disciple is a disciplined follower. He keeps his eye on the goal in spite of the distractions along the way. Unfortunately, in today’s church, we have more crowds than disciples. These are people who go to church because of the grace and blessings they enjoy. They are no different from the crowd Jesus was addressing in Luke 14:26.
A disciple on the other hand is one who has a sense of purpose. He is not living only for now. He knows the end game and moves with a sense of direction towards his goal. The disciple understands that he can only succeed as long as he follows in the Masters’ footsteps. In following the Master, the Christian disciple knows that there are distractions on the way to stop him or her from achieving God’s purpose. These may come in the form of friends, family, business partners, achievements as well as failures.
This brings us to the scripture above. Jesus was not literally asking His disciples to hate their parents, siblings or friends. What He is simply implying is that we can only truly be His disciples if we put God ahead of everything in our lives.
I remember coming to the Lord as a young boy when I was 13 years old. I was in boarding school and was taken to church by my then house master. That night, I gave my heart to the Lord and my life changed. News soon got to my parents that I was behaving irrationally for the sole reason that I chose to pray about a mild illness rather than go to the sick bay for treatment. I believe in medical treatment and sometimes go to the hospital when needed. There times however when I chose to pray because I have faith to believe that prayer alone is sufficient.
My parents were what I call ‘church goers’ but they just could not stand for this ‘strange’ behaviour in me. Stern warnings were given to me and efforts were made to stop me from going to any church where the gospel was preached in a manner they found strange. They could stop me from going to church but they could not stop the work of Christ me! Almost 45 years have gone by and I am happy today that my parents are still alive and now know what it means to be a Christian!
God is looking for disciples, people who are willing to be His arms and His feet in this world. He is looking for people who will carry the light of the gospel all around the globe, those who will support the work going on in the frontlines of the battle against the powers holding men captive.
Are you a disciple? If not, are you willing to be become one? Make a choice today to walk with Jesus. Study His word, learn of Him and as you determine to follow Him, He will lead the way to the accomplishment of God’s purpose for your life.