Do You Let Jesus Challenge You?

“Do you hate your father and mother?” I asked one woman in our church.

“No.” She replied.

“Then, you cannot be Jesus’ disciple.” I answered.

She looked at me like I was crazy, but my question was based on Jesus’ statement to a large crowd, “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” (Luke 14:26).

Of course, I don’t think Jesus literally wanted us to hate our parents, our siblings, or ourselves. So, why did Jesus say something so crazy?

I wonder if Jesus saw all these crowds and thought, “How can I get them to think about what I’m really asking them to do? How can I get them to see that I am the only one that can give them hope?” So, Jesus said something that would arrest them and make them think. It wouldn’t be the first time that Jesus had said something like that.

So, what was Jesus after?

Here’s my thought. Human beings were made to find their hope, security, blessedness, happiness, direction, purpose, and acceptance in God. He is the ultimate source of these things. All other things, even the best things like parent-child and husband-wife relationships are secondary and impossible substitutes for this divine relationship. This relationship must come first and have no peer.

Our problem is that we get it backwards. Where do we go for our comfort, security, and acceptance? Those closest to us. This is actually what creates most relationship problems. We look for a spouse, a child, or a parent to give us the affirmation and acceptance that only God can give.

So, Jesus is telling us that we have to turn that around. Our relationship with God comes first. Everything else must be relativized in comparison with Him.

It is also important to recognize that our relationship with Jesus is not a relationship of equals. Jesus defines the terms and sets the agenda. He does not enter into our life and just add something to it. He asks us to do things that conflict with our own desires. This is what he means when He says that anyone who follows after Him must “hate their own lives.”

If we are to follow Jesus, our relationships and agenda may have to give way to Jesus’ agenda and the relationship He wants to have with us.

This week I had lunch with a friend and fellow Jesus follower. He gave me an interesting example of how this works out. He loves to run, and he told me that he had given up running because He felt that He needed to spend more time in communion with Jesus. Giving up his running time was the best way to do it. It was hard, but it was worth it.

I, on the other hand, have recently started running. I have done it because of Jesus. I have realized that I want to increase my own strength, energy, and capacity for endurance so I can serve the Lord better. Running once a week is one way that I am trying to do this.

It’s the same Jesus who is calling us in different ways to give up our own lives in following Him.

It begins with letting Jesus challenge you. It begins with saying to Jesus, “I have my agenda, but what is yours, Jesus?” Have you ever said that to Him?

And why would we do this? Because Jesus’ agenda is better than our own.


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