By Gladys McElmore
Jesus was realistic about what it meant to be His follower. He never acted like someone pushing a product while hiding the real costs in fine print. Instead, He spelled out His requirements in plain easily understood language. Is it possible today to be sure of such a story? Somehow we need to remember the power of commitment to the Lord Jesus. Being loyal to Him and also willing to pay the price required will always overwhelm us who value comfort and convenience more than a cause. Our society today generally does not breed strong principles of obedience or loyalty to our Savior. We must not let our self-fulfillment urges make us believe that we have no higher being to obey. The ideas elevating only our personal values can cause tragedies personally to our marriage, family and to friends. Worldly habits can destroy us.
As Christian believers we must face commitments that may cause discomforts as we change our behavior patterns to accommodate a different lifestyle. At least some self-centered values must be eliminated in order to even partially follow Jesus! Are we as believers immune to the world’s value system? How can we become rich in knowledge and faith? Our self-centered and self-fulfillment goals can always collide with the plain teachings of Jesus. The demands of our master are incompatible with partial commitments or casual discipleship. The Lord requires our higher thinking skills and unconditional allegiance to Him.
In this passage of Scripture, little extra explaining is needed by any reader. Does it matter that a large crowd or that only a few believers hear such a message? Plainly Jesus asks all who come to Him to not hate others or even his own life in order to become His disciple. He does not stop there, but also requires us to carry our own cross and follow Him to be His disciple! In the same way as others before us, we must make some personal sacrifices to become His disciples. Jesus tells us to give up everything. Let us humbly accept the Master’s invitation which can include everyone no matter how unworthy we may feel. Even if we feel lost, this is a clear reminder that salvation is by grace through faith. It is not reserved only for certain people who meet specific requirements, but for all who trust in Christ.
Luke tells us that there were large crowds that traveled with Jesus. Like any other crowd, some were probably more spiritually stronger than others. Whatever their spiritual status, they still needed to understand the requirements of being a follower of Jesus. As a result of studying Scripture, we learn that our attachment must be to the Lord and to His way of life. As disciples we are to share not only in His message, but also in His mission. Luke 14:26 tells us clearly that Jesus must be first in our lives as followers. We must love Him more than all others. We must come for salvation which is a free gift. The Lord wants us to be sensitive to sin and totally dependent on His grace.
Jesus’ words are addressed to believers and no doubt to unbelievers. In a mixed crowd of people, some probably need to be shocked into the realization that casual acquaintance may not be enough for discipleship with Jesus who speaks of the loyalty He requires of disciples which transcends all human relationships. Jesus is indicating that He demands first priority in our lives. We must love nothing or no one more than Him. Can we afford to compete with our allegiance to the Lord?
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.