Sunday September 4, 2016
A Reflection on Luke 14:25-33, N.A.B.
By: Larry T
A bathrobe-clad sleep-eyed husband balefully watches his wife prepare to leave for Sunday morning church services; finally he mutters, “Isn’t all of this praying at church just a waste of time?” A defiant teen age boy whispers to his younger sister, “Boy, have things changed around here since Dad got religion!” A bright young woman, a college student majoring in microbiology, returns home for the summer and announces, “I’m sorry Mom and Dad but science just doesn’t support religion, so I’m not going to go to church with you this morning, and in the future I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk about God in front of me!” And, so it goes!
Jesus was, and still is, the supreme master of capturing an audience’s attention with thought-provoking concepts. In this Gospel reading Jesus’ rhetorical statement about hating family would have astonished many of those in his audience; no doubt some of his listeners immediately turned their backs on him and stomped away.
25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them,
26 “If any one 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.
27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 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?
29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him
30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
31 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?
32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:25-33 N.A.B.
In our present day, as in Jesus’ day, when we answer the call to go to him we should be prepared for some negative consequences: estrangement from family and friends, and yes, sometimes even persecution. Tragically, those who suffer the disapproval or ridicule of family or friends are sometimes persuaded to ignore God’s call to discipleship; some even lose their faith.
In our modern chaotic world God has to come first, then family, then work, and lastly play. True disciples put God before everything else in their lives, including family. A wife reading this might respond with, “Wait a minute! Family has to come first!” Really? What is the probability of a man who puts God first in his life abandoning his family or becoming a spouse abuser? A husband reading this might think, “The kids and I had better come first!” Really? What is the likelihood of a wife who puts God first in her life being unfaithful to her husband? What the odds of a marriage ending in divorce when both the husband and wife put Jesus first in their lives? Can a true disciple neglect her children?
Putting God first in our lives doesn’t mean spending all of our waking hours in prayer; it can mean choosing to attend Sunday church services instead of going on a Sunday morning fishing trip with friends; it can mean shopping at the mall on Saturday instead of Sunday, it can mean being habitually polite instead of being customarily rude, it can mean driving safely instead of cutting another car off in traffic; it can mean spending fifteen minutes reading Scripture instead of watching television, it can mean refusing to use profanity when everyone else in the group does; the list is endless.
The urge to worship God (discipleship) is a deep-rooted and powerful and supernatural force which is ingrained in our souls. True disciples are at peace with God, themselves, their family, and their neighbors. Those who refuse to accept God’s call are predictably angry, hostile, and resentful because of the Godless existence they live. But there is always hope because God never abandons his people – even when they reject him!