OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.’”
What is most important to you is that which elicits your devotion, time, resources, and protection. Perhaps your “most important” is your family’s welfare and security. Perhaps it is the brilliance of your mind. Perhaps it is the noble cause you have been advocating, or the camaraderie between you and your close friends. Perhaps it might even be your sexuality.
Whether you are aware or not, your identity – your sense of being valuable and unique – bases itself on something that you consider important. If family is what’s most important, you will do everything possible to be a good parent or child. If success is what’s most important, you will seek a career that will display your skills and encourage you to be independent. If personal happiness reigns supreme, you will be filling your time with little luxuries of food, or travel, or sex.
Human hearts were crafted to worship, and so here’s a question to ask yourself, whether or not your consider yourself religious: What have I been worshiping?
The Bible has numerous things to say about worship, but what’s clear is that if God is the object of your worship, then there is certainly no space for sharing that throne.
In this sobering account found in Luke, we see Jesus attracting large numbers of people who are decidedly from differing backgrounds, social status, age, tastes, and education.
But here are three things that can be observed from this story:
1. Jesus turns. At that time, in contemporary notions, Jesus was a rising celebrity. Everyone was caught up with this nobody from Nazareth who is suddenly making religious and political waves. People wanted to be close to Him, to watch what He’ll do next, and to get some of the benefits of being around Him. And instead of signing autographs or hiding from the paparazzi or taking whatever would have been the equivalent of selfies during that time, Jesus turns to his “fans” and initiates a real relationship:“Come to me, I want you to be part of my family!” He calls out. “Here’s what you do.” The question remains, however: will you accept His invitation?
2. Sin is not simply doing bad things. Most people think that sin is breaking the rules or doing what the church would consider as immoral. The First Commandment tells us in Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before me.”
According to Jesus in Matthew 22:37, the first and greatest commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Tim Keller puts it this way: “The primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God.”
Jesus does not want you literally hating your family or yourself. What He wants is to be the sole basis of your identity, life, and love. He wants you to enjoy His glory and His presence. Anything else is counterfeit.
3. Discipleship costs. Luke 14:27, Jesus says, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” So, going back to my original question: What have you been worshiping?
You may have been trying to do all that you can to worship what has taken root in your life for years while simultaneously agreeing that Jesus is your all in all. Don’t allow folly to consume you. His death and sacrifice on Calvary does not afford people a “tie” in lordship.
C.S. Lewis says, “The Christian way is different – both harder and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me ALL. I don’t want just this much of your time and this much of your money and this much of your work – so that your natural self can have the rest. I want you. Not your things. I have come not to torture your natural self. I will give you a new self instead. Hand over the whole natural self – ALL the desires, not just the ones you think wicked but the ones you think innocent – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead.”
In all contriteness of heart, ponder on the reality of discipleship. Have you been taking your cross and following? Pray now, with 1 Peter 3:15 in mind: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”
Writer’s Bio: Najee Chua is 100% grateful to finally be serving in the non-profit sector, after 3+ wonderful years of faith-based events management. She now works as the Income Generating Project Coordinator for Virlanie Foundation, a child-caring institution that protects and advocates for street children in Manila. You can find her fighting for joy at www.hellohappyheart.com.