“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:26-27
Scripture tells us that there are things that are detestable to God. Proverbs 16 shares a few: a lying tongue; a heart that devises wicked schemes; a false witness who pours out lies; a person who stirs up conflict in the community to name a few. These actions are contrary to our Holy God. We are told to be holy like God is holy and therefore we should hate those things that God hates. We should avoid a lifestyle that includes these activities and not associated with people who actively engage in these activities. We should choose God before people even if they are our family.
Jesus’ statements in Luke 14 appears extreme; you must hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters. However, please note that He is not advocating hatred. He is asking us how far we are willing to go to be His follower.
Jesus is against all things that offend the Father and so He asks can we be offended by the things that offend God?
Would you leave a job that actively provides a service or product that contributes to the moral decline of our society? Would you walk out of a movie that is full of vulgarity, violence and nudity? Despite your best efforts to share Jesus with your family, would you avoid them if they openly mocked God and purposefully sinned against Him? Jesus does not want us to abandon anyone just because we have a difference in theological opinion, worship style, or even belief. He does challenge us to ask ourselves are we willing to choose Him over everything else.
The Holy Spirit is a significant force in this world affecting the lives of the believer and unbeliever. He guides and encourages those who believe and offers grace to those who do not. He will be with us if we are in a situation where we must choose and so we need to be able to recognize His prompting. Prayer is what keeps that connection open as during prayer we share specifics of our hearts. Without prayer, we will not recognize when God is answering. Without communicating with God, we will not be able to distinguish between coincidence and an answer to prayer.
Prayer is needed in the event that we are faced with a choice. Jesus wants us to choose Him, but if a scenario ever crops where we think we must choose between family and Jesus, we must pray so we can control our emotions and our tongue and go to God and seek His wisdom. We also must pray that when we are asked, we accept God’s way, no matter how hard it may be. Taking up the cross is not meant to be easy, but it is meant to be rewarding.