The Bible clearly teaches that salvation comes only by grace through faith, but sometimes we come upon certain sections of the New Testament that seem quite the opposite…downright works-oriented. Take for instance, Luke 14:25 – 33. Here, as a requirement for being his disciple, the Lord Jesus requires hatred toward father and mother, children and brothers. And he ends this challenging section by saying,
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:32-33 (ESV)
So, first you have to hate your daddy and then you have to give up your stuff. Sounds like works to me.
Actually, what’s happening here is a contrast. Jesus is saying that being his follower will mean placing a huge value on Him. Of course, your mom and dad and kids will remain important to you. Other places in Scripture help us to interpret the “hate” passage here. (Always allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.)
But what it means to be a Christian is that your precious family and certainly your stuff will, in contrast to Him, not be all-encompassing, not at least the way He is. I love my family and I would be devastated to lose my wife or one of my children, and yet, I would survive by the grace of God. However, losing Christ would not only be devastating to me – it would be disintegrating. Jesus is my very identity in a way that nothing else is, and in case you’re thinking that this is a professional thing as regards my work in ministry, it’s not. This would have been true of me long before I was a pastor. More than that, I am not trying to boast spiritually here of my “deep relationship” with Christ. According to this passage in Luke, I’m not remarkable in this. Jesus’ very point is that all true Christians will be just like this, because being a Christian means your life revolves completely around Him. Everything else is peripheral.
Now, it’s funny – true Christians tend to forget this, because their lives do actually center around Christ, and they get used to it. Everywhere they turn they see Jesus and they don’t feel it’s strange anymore. We are like the fish that never thinks about the water because everything in its existence is water-oriented. In the same way, we don’t think about how Jesus is everything to us, but if you are a Christian, make no mistake about it…he is.
John Piper calls people to faith in Christ by calling them to “make Christ your treasure.” That’s good…because everyone who is a Christian does just that. Christ becomes a priceless treasure.
By the way, don’t be confused. I’m not claiming sinlessness here, and Jesus doesn’t even mention that in this passage. True Christians struggle with sin – I sure do – but everywhere I struggle, like every other place in my life…joyfully, I see Jesus.
Why is Jesus so all-encompassing for us? That’s easy – because of what He’s done for us. “The love of Christ (displayed on the Cross) controls me,” Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:14. It’s not works righteousness after all – the true believer understands the love and grace and forgiveness of Christ and is forever transformed.
Now, here’s the question you need to ask going forward – do the above words seem strange and unfamiliar to you? Has Jesus been a compartment of your life, instead of…your life? If so, watch this video below, and ask Him to do a work in your heart to allow you to see what Ruth Bell Graham saw – the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. And allow the words of this song to call you to the most wonderful life you could ever imagine – the life that has Christ as Treasure.
For Tuesday, July 21st: Luke 15