Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 123; 146, Joel 2:3-11, Revelation 19:1-10, Luke 14:25-35
Today’s word from Luke is a tough one. A large crowd was following Jesus, and he turned to them and said:
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple […] None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
If he was trying to thin the crowd, that probably worked. Not only is it daunting … it’s confusing. This is the same Jesus who tells us to love our enemies – our enemies – telling us to hate our loved ones. Who is going to sign up for that?
Fortunately, we have plenty of examples where Jesus used exaggeration to make a point, so we can take a step back to get some perspective. If we are going to claim to be disciples – that is, students and followers – of Christ, every other priority must place a distant second; a matchstick behind a bonfire; a puddle beside the ocean.
Discipleship has a cost. In a predominantly Christian culture, the need to pay that cost may feel far less urgent than in Jesus’s time, or in other cultures. If we want to, we can live our lives in almost exclusively Christian circles. But there’s a difference between following Christ and following Christians. Christ came for the sick, not the well, so to follow him we must often travel outside our safe spaces. Many fellow Christians aren’t going to want you to go. They may discourage you out of concern for your safety, or possibly because they don’t want to be reminded they aren’t paid up. And when that’s the case, we may have to leave them behind.
Whatever the cost, following Christ means following truth and love. We are called to shed the people and things that keep us from taking that journey. At the end, we won’t need the things, and we will come full circle to love the people again in a better way.
Comfort: Wherever Christ leads you, he will be there with you.
Challenge: Make a list of things you need to let go of to better follow Christ. Which one can you let go of this month?
Prayer: Merciful God, grant me the strength to be a true and faithful disciple of Christ. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever felt relief from letting go of something – a relationship, a possession, a feeling? If so, what was it?
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