What is at the center of your life?
The Cost of Being a Disciple: Building a Tower and Making War
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “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. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
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.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 14:25-35, NIV)
How many Christians are there in the world today? In 2015, the Pew Research Center determined that 2.3 billion people claimed to be Christian. That is nearly one-third of the world’s population. That’s great! You might be thinking. But stop and think further. How many times have you heard a nation’s leader claim to be a Christian? Look at their policies – are they governing in a way that is pleasing to the Lord? If one-third of the world was devoutly following Christ, as all Christians should, would the world be in the state that it is in?
During His time on earth, Jesus had large crowds of people following Him, just as a large crowd of people follow Him today, yet He did not consider them all His disciples, for they were not willing to forsake everything to follow Him. Today’s passage is addressed at the 2.3 billion people in the world who claim to follow the Lord. Are you part of the crowd? Or are you a disciple? Jesus can easily identify those who were and are merely part of the crowd. The crowd was and is not willing to put the Lord at the center of their life.
During the time of Jesus, family was the center of a person’s life. Family came first. You cared for your family. Think of the many laws recorded in the Books of Moses. How many of them dealt with caring for family? Family is important to the Lord and caring for your family is a way of honoring Him. However, God must come first in a person’s life.
Jesus’ use of the word “hate” in this passage, is likely not what you are thinking. Today, hate is commonly associated with feelings of intense loathing and/or revulsion, wanting nothing to do with the object (or person) that is hated. The definition of words evolve and change however, and the concept of hate during the time of Jesus was not associated with those strong feelings. Instead, it meant to place something in lower position than something else. When Jesus said to hate fathers and mothers, wives and children, brothers and sisters, and even a person’s own life, He meant that, in order of importance in a person’s life, they are to be placed in a position lower than a person’s dedication to the Lord. Yes, hate is a very strong word, and Jesus was using it to grab the attention of everyone listening! The Lord is to be the complete center of our lives!
Jesus goes on to give two examples on the importance of preparation and how lack of preparation can derail a project. Becoming a disciple of Christ is a life-long project! Becoming a disciple of Christ requires us to make sacrifices in our lives, sacrifices of worldly pleasures and desires. God does not try to hide the difficulties that Christians will face by becoming His disciples. He wants us to come to Him knowing all the facts and challenges and say, “I am ready Lord. I forsake everything for you.”
Jesus concludes with a reminder that we must persevere in our dedication to the Lord. We must not allow impurities to infiltrate our lives and to remove God from being front and center.
There are 2.3 billion people in the world who claim to follow the Lord. Does our world reflect that? What does your life reflect? Are you part of the crowd? Or are you a disciple? Is God front and center in your life?
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