Daily Reflection – 11/8/2023
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, “This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.” Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)
The words of Jesus Christ lay out the “conditions” to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. By the standards of the world, the three “can not’s” are far from attractive. In fact, they may appear to many as downright discouraging.
In essence, Jesus points out that: The Christian life demands strength to love. The Christian life demands that we carry a cross. The Christian life demands that we give up everything for God. (a quick aside: the word “hate” here is a Semitic idiom. It refers not to negative emotion but preference.)
Those conditions deserve our full attention. Churches throughout the world are packed with people interested in Jesus but who don’t really grasp the implications of discipleship for themselves. People who were willing to follow Jesus and learn from him as long as the cost wasn’t too high. Sometimes I think that churches make it too easy to be a Christian. We preach a gospel of love. Sometimes it is preached as if all it takes is Church on Sunday. After all, we can’t preach a sermon that makes people uncomfortable.!
But that’s not the discussion. The discussion should always be about choosing to be a disciple. Choosing. Your choice. We elect to be his disciple because we choose to live a life where his light shines through us and touches others, maybe even heals others.
As part of this discipleship, Jesus does not tell us that we should have no love for the things most precious in our lives, our many bonds of kinship, even our own life itself. He is telling us that even these things must not be given a preference in our decisions that would amount to a renunciation of Christ and what he stands for.
To achieve the goal of discipleship – eternal union with God –we have to make intelligent use of the means to get there. The means involve, as he says, putting him first which means putting everything else second, including the good things of this world that he has blessed us with. Then it means giving of ourselves all the way out of love, picking up our Crosses and bearing those sacrifices out of love, dying to ourselves each day, and thereby opening ourselves up to the transforming power of Jesus’ love.
So, carrying your cross is a choice and ironically, it is a choice for life and not death. But here is the challenge. We tend toward saying the cross is a choice for life because it leads to resurrection. It is that. It is a choice for life. And life can be messy. War. Hurt. Death. Illness. Poverty. Anger. Malice. The list goes on and on. All the things that humankind has done which are contra to the words of Christ. We are all subject to them to one degree or another. We all shudder when life seems to hand us more than one at once.
Choosing the cross means carrying that cross in a world which can be brutal. But having chosen the cross to carry in this world is liberation from a mindset barraged by evil things. We carry our crosses through our life on earth. And when we stumble, when we hurt, when we are overcome, the words of Christ lift us up and remind us that all is temporary. The words of Christ have freed us to imagine what the cross means for our future. The words of Christ lift us up, hold us up. The words of Christ bring us home now and in the future.
When we put God first in life, we open the door for him to touch people in ways unimaginable. These ways far transcend any religious activities or behaviors we engage in. He works through us!
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are my Treasure, my Life, and my All. There is nothing in this life that can outweigh the joy of knowing, loving, and serving you all the days of my life. Take my life and all that I have and make it yours for your glory now and forever.”
The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who and what they love first and foremost. We can be ruled and mastered by many different things – money, drugs, success, power or fame. Only one Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, can truly set us free from the power of sin, greed, and destruction. The choice is ours – who will we serve and follow – the path and destiny the Lord Jesus offers us or the path we choose in opposition to God’s will and purpose for our lives. It boils down to choosing between life and death, truth and falsehood, goodness and evil. If we choose for the Lord Jesus and put our trust in him, he will show us the path that leads to true joy and happiness with our Father in heaven.