What did you think of this reading? I struggled with “hating” the people I love most. The words, “by comparison,” help us to see what Jesus is saying. He is not contradicting himself or his command to love one another. He is, instead, being totally serious as to how much we need to love HIM to be his follower. He demands our full attention and devotion.
It is probably his way of preparing us for the life of a disciple. It won’t be easy, the cost is high. Some will lose their friends, some will lose their jobs, families often split apart, and some may even lose their life. Are you ready to lose these things for Jesus? Being a follower is not for the weak. It’s not a walk in the park, smell the roses kind of life. While its rewards and blessings have no end, it is not an easy life.
Being a follower of Jesus commands us to fully submit. Jesus uses the image of carrying your own cross (you may recall that same example from Chapter 9). To carry your cross is to fully submit to your fate. Those facing death would have to carry their cross, the cross they would be crucified on. It was the final submission. We need to submit fully to Jesus. Fully.
Jesus wants us to know these things up front so we can make the right decision. Are we cut out to be his followers? He used the example of building a house and knowing how much money you’ll need for the project before you get started. This passage takes on a whole new meaning for me here in Mexico. I don’t think it’s that the Mexicans don’t plan, and I don’t think anyone is laughing (as the text would suggest), but there are many homes that only half constructed in our neighborhood. The owner simply ran out of money. When they have more money, they come and do more work. Houses can take years to build, but we are in a developing nation here, and that’s just the way it’s done. Houses are many times a work in progress.
Isn’t that how we are as Christians. Sure, we know we need to fully submit and love Jesus with every inch of our being. Yet, sometimes it’s a process to get to that level of submission. We are works in progress. Does that make us less effective followers?
Jesus said, “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Could you just walk away from all your possessions? Think on that for a moment. It’s what happens when we die. When I think of doing that now, a bit of excitement courses through my veins. I would be totally dependent on God’s provision. For everything. I could do it. Jesus is just that important.
The passage closes with the example of salt. I don’t know about you, but we don’t use a lot of salt. There is no salt shaker on the table. I grew up watching my dad put a ton of salt on everything. Then his doctor said, “No more.” Salty foods for me are not that desirable. The point here is that we need to bring flavor to the world around us and preserve goodness in the world. How salty are you these days?
Let’s pray. Father God I know the cost of following you is high. While I consider myself a follower, I have never fully submitted by giving away all that I own, nor have I disowned my own family. I really struggle with that expectation and hope that it is not a literal command but more intention based. It helps me to realize the high cost involved in following you. It empowers me to be in better communication with you. I am also more desirous of pleasing you in all I say and do. I never want to take you for granted. Forgive me when I am scattered and not focused. Thank you for giving me a life to live for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.