March 21 Luke 14:25-33
What are you willing to sacrifice to follow the call of Christ? Will you sacrifice your time, your energy, and give of yourself to serve the members of your community in the name of Christ? What about your material possessions? Will you give of your income, your wealth, to someone in need? And how about your relationships, the way that you interact with your family, the way that you define your context—will you sacrifice your understanding of how the world works to be a disciple of Christ?
For many Christians, it seems natural to sacrifice one’s time and energy. We attend church on Sunday mornings, many of us volunteer before or after a service to usher, to work with Horizons, or serve on a board or the diaconate. Even contributing monetarily seems understandable, and we tithe and give offerings of love when we are asked. But for many Christians, that last sacrifice is not one that is easily understood or accepted. Jesus says that a Christian who “does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes even his own life—” (Lk 14:26-27) cannot be a true disciple.
What does this mean? At first glance, I too, balk at the possibility that Jesus is calling us to hate. But a more thorough reading is necessary to understand what Jesus is really asking us for. As Christians, we live on the cusp of this reality: we are in the world but not of it; we are messengers and actors of God’s kingdom—on earth. Jesus preaches a radical message, one which turns our social understanding upside down: we are called to love the oppressor as much as the oppressed! To turn the other cheek when we are stricken, to pray for those who mistreat us, to give our shirt when our coat has been taken.
To fully be in Christ, we must give up ourselves—relinquish our sense of security based on our understanding of the world, for the security of faith in the Savior. We must shed the teachings and the ways of our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters. The Gospel of Christ is a radical call to live not according to the ways we have been taught, but to follow a complex calling to love without condition—in defiance of a society in which everything is conditional. We are called to look the accepted ways of society in the face with defiance and say, there is another way to live!
Fully realizing the call of Christ—accepting discipleship—means forsaking the ways that we have known and understood the world. Only once we have done this can we build a new foundation upon which the teachings of Jesus can stand. The One who sacrificed himself for you calls you to reconsider the things you know and to give completely and fully of yourself. Christianity is not religion; it is a way to live, but you cannot truly feel the peace of Christ until you can release your hold on the ways you have known and commit yourself to the promise of more.
So I ask you, what are YOU willing to sacrifice to follow the call of Christ?
God, give me the courage to let go of what I always thought, and open my heart to the possibilities your Spirit might bring to me.