“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
As a homeowner, I need to keep my lawn mowed in the summertime, and that’s something I do myself. The weather can get warm in August, so I can spend quite a bit of energy doing the lawn. The exercise is good, but when I am done, I can tell that I have used up strength and energy. It costs me something to do the work.
In our reading for today, Jesus talks about the cost of following him. Some of his words sound harsh, and sometimes Jesus spoke this way to make clear that following him is not easy. Instead, it can be very hard work.
For example, following Jesus can mean that our relationships with family and friends become strained because they do not believe in him. But Jesus is not saying we must literally “hate” them, because we also know that he calls us to love everyone, even our enemies (Matthew 6:44). In another passage Jesus states the same thing in a way that is easier to understand: “Anyone who loves their father or mother . . . [or] son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). In other words, to follow Jesus, we need to put him first in our lives. We need to be willing to put aside everything else we have to be his disciples.
Friends, following Jesus will cost you. Others might ridicule you, laugh at you, beat you, or even kill you. But, rest assured, nothing can separate you from the love of God.
Lord, strengthen the faith of all who are persecuted because of you. Give us the courage to follow you, whatever the cost. Amen.
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