“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
How often is this verse twisted.. or simply ignored for lack of understanding? Let me help share the Lord’s heart here a bit. The Greek word for “hate” here means simply “ to love less; to esteem more lightly than.” Jesus is not contradicting His nature and He is not stating He will reject us. Our Lord is letting us know that if we do not count the cost and have Him as our first Love, we are not capable of reflecting the fullness of His nature and image to those around us who need to see that image.
Now… the verse becomes so simple right? Our walk with our Dad is meant to be so simple… so deep. It is why were were created.
But with all things, there is a cost. I’ll share a piece of my past.
Pulling my truck out of the parking lot of a local supermarket, my wife and I spotted a lone elderly lady, perhaps 70 years of age, meandering amongst the parked cars. Her walk was slow and something about her compelled me to pull over.
“Ma’am, can we help you in any way?”
She explained she was selling “maps” of the historic town where we live. My mother-in-law had in fact, just given me such a map and as I gazed at this lady’s print I saw it was a cheap, xeroxed version of the one we had hanging on our fridge at home. I peered into her intently as she explained they were $5 each, and a glossy version sold for $10.
She turned and looked up at me through my rolled down window… and in that moment I knew a great part of me wished I had never stopped.
The hearts of people are like rivers… Violent currents of tumultuous waters that flow downstream toward an unknown and unseen waterfall. As I looked into her eyes, the river swept over me.
Fragile love and a fragile existence lived. Tenderness mingled with a joy for life and a spirit of hope was an integral part of her makeup. Such a gentle, warm soul and by the grace of God’s gifts placed within her before the foundations of the world, she has held on to this life. It was not an easy one. And now she was alone, rejected and overlooked. This is someone’s mother. This was someone’s wife.
This is Someone’s daughter.
Choking back tears, and turning to Maija, I asked how much cash we had. My wife silently opened her wallet, and tipping it toward me, I saw $40.
So I turned and gave the woman…twenty. She sparkled, and hope filled her heart as the Lord revealed to me she was not expecting to have such a “good day.” My eyes began to blur more as it dawned on me, I would most likely be the only one to buy these from her. I soon drove away and got no more than 60 feet or so, when I put the truck in park and wept deeply, my face buried in my hands and steering wheel. I felt the Lord’s river of love for her as well as what her heart was feeling. To this day, I am not sure which was more painful to bear. Unable to move, see, or speak, I let those two rivers, both His and hers, flow over me. I had little choice and I yielded. I was there a long time…
Not once did it occur to me to give her all my money (how could I buy the sandwich at the deli I was heading toward?) Not once did it occur to me to invite her home for a meal (what would I do once the meal was over.. and how long would she stay??) It did however, occur to me to share the gospel with her but I did not. She might actually have thought I was crazy, and besides I was “living” the gospel just then, wasn’t I? Surely that was enough.
That event took place over 5 years ago… and I can recall it as if it was last month… and forever will. It comes to my remembrance every time I pull into that parking lot. It comes to mind on every cold day.
So what is my point in all of this? On the surface, my act could have been seen as such a deep expression of Father’s love. Doubtless if I was in the company of “lost” bystanders or worse yet, Christians, I would have been admired and become the source of dinner conversation in someone’s home… doubtless. Here is the reality. I fell short. Very short. The question is “of what?” and the answer is as simple as the verse we opened with. I fell short of His heart and His nature and His love expressed. I simply was not yet at that place in my walk with the Lord yet. I could only give what I possessed myself.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it?” Luke 14:28
“Faith without works is dead.” Sure, I felt His heart. I loved that stranger in an instant. Out of the overflow of my communion with my Father, I wanted to give her some of the unfathomable love of the Father. And I did… to the extent I had counted the cost at that point in my walk. But there is more… always, so much more of Father to experience.
This is not about “works” as confusing as it may seem at the moment. This is about overflow. We can only give what we possess. We can only possess what we go get. And we can only go get what we have apprehended from the throne-room of God. In order to do this we must decide in our life and walk what we are going to “love less” and what we are going to “love more.”
This is not about works. This is not about self-condemnation.
This is about communion. This is about relationship. This is about walking with Him in the “garden in the cool of the day…” (Gen 3:8)
A generation is coming forth in this hour who will desire communion with Him above all things. The call is going forth. “Return to your First Love.”
Are we willing to lay aside our pride, our amenities, our comforts and above all.. the convenience of the way we conduct our born-again relationship… or dare I say, born-again “religion”?
Here is the most amazing thing about our Father. He loves us fully either way. We are His sons and daughters. There is a cost though. There is pain involved. Carrying the glory cloud of Dad’s heart inside you is not something that comes with compromise… on any level. To the degree we lightly esteem the things that beg for our allegiance is the degree we walk amongst the stones at the foot of His throne. This is not apologetics. This is not about theology. This is not about visualization and allegories. This is about a spiritual relationship and reality… and I cannot imagine any cost that is not worth paying to abide in Him. In Him is life. In Him is fullness of joy. In Him is… everything.
He is speaking to your hearts even now. Jesus is calling for His bride to come to Him in true oneness, unity… and true love. What does this even mean? Dare to find out. Dare to count the cost of seeking Him above all things and with all your heart. You cannot earn His love. It’s already fully there. We just need to perceive it. This comes through spending time with Him. Father is a bear robbed of her cubs… He is raging for you.
He eagerly is waiting. His eyes scan the horizon of our hearts.. He is waiting to lavish you with His love and transform you into the fullness of His nature. This is true relationship. And it is this kind of relationship expressed as an outflow that brings those lost children to the cross.
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
When I falter in my zeal to know Him more fully… in the midnight watch when I hear Him call me to come away with Him…when I feel the weakness of the flesh creeping into my thoughts and when I find that dead, carnal minded man daring to contend with the mind of Christ that we have been given at salvation, I think on this woman… and so many others…
And this…. galvanizes my resolve. Yes… I will arise and go to Him.
It is the love of Christ that compels us, the Word says… and to the depths we rest in His expression over us, is the degree we allow Him to spring forth from within us. The more we experience His love, the more we love Him.. and the more we naturally want to give away that love.. lest we die from that pain of love hindered and fellowship lost.
Set your forehead like flint. There is a spirit realm that is accessible to every born-again child of God. The kingdom is within you. It is here that we are to live and move and have our being. It is here that is our Sabbath Rest and the fullness of our destiny. And it is from here.. that we give to others the only thing that we can ever truly possess.
Count the cost.
See what happens….