“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”-Luke 14:25-27
Throughout the New Testament there are passages of scripture that I consider to be thinning passages. Bold statements made by Jesus designed to flesh out, uncover, and distinguish those who were serious about following Him. This, to me, is one of those passages. Jesus is being followed by a great multitude of people, when suddenly He stops, turns to them, and declares that if anyone does not hate their father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife and children; even their own lives they could not be His disciple!
A statement like that is designed to make people stop and think. Did Jesus mean what He said? Yes! Does it mean we have to hate all these people? No, but it should challenge you to consider if any of these relationships holds a greater place in your heart and life than He does! Although Jesus will go on to explain this extravagant statement in the passages following; it surely gave people pause to consider their own realistic level of commitment.
Recently I read a report given by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity that stated in 2016 there were 90,000 Christians murdered for their faith around the world. The CSGC additionally reported the number of Christians martyred in the last decade reached 900,000, which amounts to one being killed every six minutes. The CSGC defines a martyr as anyone who lost their life prematurely as a result of human hostility, while they were upholding Christianity. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world.
It is hard for us here in our western culture to fathom such a thing. Because of the religious freedoms we enjoy we have the luxury of gathering for worship each week without fear of being bombed, gunned down, or burned out. We do not live with the daily threat of having our houses and property destroyed because of our faith in Jesus. However, this has caused us to become very lackadaisical in our approach to holiness, witnessing, and disciple-making. Compared to Christianity around the world our version is safe and comfortable, which I fear is producing a church that is void of the power of God.
Part of the problem is that the message we are proclaiming is devoid of any mention of the cost. There is a cost associated with following Jesus. Jesus spoke a lot about the cost of following Him. In Luke 14: 28-30 Jesus stated:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”-Luke 14:28-30
Jesus’ parable describes a man who sets out to build a tower, but does not calculate how much it will cost to build it. He is able to start, but is not able to finish. How many people do we know like that; who start off with every intention of following Jesus, but ultimately do not finish because the price to follow became too great?
Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church