Time combined with age is an extremely powerful combination that will bring life lessons so endearing they become permanent fixtures within our hearts and minds for as long as we live. For some of us these life lessons are marred with pain and anguish, of a life lead absent of God. Some of us were blessed beyond all belief and lead lives filled with wealth in every area; leaving the illusion that nothing is out of their reach, oddly the one thing they need they never receive. Some life lessons leave us filled with mixed emotions that push false impressions of what is real. These people find a fault in their heart so deep that they begin to believe in the dangerous lie that they can never be healed, that their fault can never be filled completely. Some of us for the same reasons conduct our lives as if we know everything all the time. The fear of the unknown drives an insatiable hunger which is fueled by the feelings that they are in some way en-antiquate, which builds up their insecurities preventing them from ever really knowing the one person they should have befriended, Our Lord and Savior. Some life lessons fill us with Gods Holy Wisdom, allowing them to overlook the sins of others and instead of retreating, reach out their hands in forgiveness again and again. The difference within these people from all those mentioned before is simple, they understood and was willing to comply with the true requirement of discipleship.
“If you love your father and mother, or your son and daughter, more than me, you cannot follow me. Unless you take up your cross and let go of all you possess, you cannot follow me.”(The Lost Gospel Q, Q69, p. 104).
Harsh words, radical words from a man who everyone flocked to for various reasons, most had no real clue why they followed him other than he would do miracles, pre-haps to quench their own desire to see before they could believing. Nevertheless, Jesus put forth a stern requirement that divided the people, shocked many, and made each and every one of them wonder to what he was saying. This requirement transcended all of his previous messages on love and forgiveness. It took the faithful to a whole new level of believing while at the same time drove out those who were not serious, and was along for the ride. Within his words he was reminding them that everything has a cost, and the cost for following him was extremely high. It was not a cost which would make him monetarily wealthy, but rather make that person wealthier than Kings, spiritually fulfilled.
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 26-27).
Jesus wanted his disciples to fear not for their own lives because in doing this would create a roadblock to accomplishing Gods mission. Do not love anyone more than your God, is completely in line with the teachings of Moses, and the commandment set forth by God:
1 “And God spoke all the words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:1-6).
Within the words of God the father, now repeated in Jesus the son, the true cost of discipleship was given so as to allow the people to choose for themselves. So that we can estimate the cost. “Jesus did not want a blind, naive commitment that expected only blessings. As a builder estimates costs or a king evaluates military strength, so people must consider what Jesus expects of his followers before they commit their lives to him” (Notes: 14-28). His requirement was one of total surrender, just as God had told the Jews fleeing Egypt.
Total surrender is the hardest part of this requirement. It initials that you give everything up, all your possessions, worries, doubts, heartaches, preconceived notions, family, friends, and even your own worth of your own life. Jesus was telling us all these things belong to God anyway; we cannot take any of this to heaven when we die. The only thing which really matters is God. Living a life filled with God, a life which exemplifies God. A life where God comes first is a life which is filled with Gods divine love, and mercy. It is a life which is set upon a trek that is not defined by material wealth or possessions. It is a life built upon morality, wisdom, compassion, and love. Jesus was handing to the people, and still offers this to us today, the strength to do anything, work miracles in other people’s lives, to build up those in need, and to utilizes the most powerful tool ever created, that of faith.
A blind man cannot see, but walks across the street based upon faith he will make it to the other side. A child loves her parents, but must have faith all her needs will be met. Birds in the air forage each day, and it is on faith they find what they need. God takes care of the wild animals, so how much more will he love and take care of each one of us if he looks at us as the salt of the earth?
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (Luke, 14:34-35).
For the twelve disciples Jesus warned them that each one would suffer greatly in his name, Jesus forewarned that the true requirement is found within the belief that all things are possible even when they seem to be hopeless, even until death. We live our lives with God, then our lives have meaning, purpose, and our mission then lives far beyond our mortal existence. We follow Jesus faithfully, who leads us to God, we serve as disciples so that our impact is far more powerful and outreaching than what we can contemplate, affecting thousands of generations after we are gone. Within this single requirement, our singular purpose is ex-hauled before our Lord our God. We fulfill the very words of God that which was spoken centuries ago in the deserts of Mt. Sinai. Our God is a gracious God; our savior is a loving shepherd tenderly watching his flock. In reality Jesus was not asking of us or those people who heard him that day, to do anything which he first was not willing to do himself. His requirement is obedient sacrifice which is rewarded with loving grace.
If you have been moved by this blog, I humbly invite you to leave a comment, and may all your days be filled with peace, love, and God’s eternal joy.