The words of Jesus are harsh, maybe too harsh for our ears to hear. Family is so central to what we are in life. What politician doesn’t carry the banner of being pro-family? Any organization seeking new members wants to be seen as supportive of family and uses family events as part of their recruitment efforts. Family Values may be a rallying cry but families do struggle trying to hold all things together. The addiction to screen time on the phone takes away family attentiveness to each other. Sports teams and other activities pull families in different directions trying to keep up with loyalty demands. Now Jesus is talking about hating family…hating life…the need to take up our cross to be his disciple…sell all possessions to be his disciple.
Jesus is inviting one and all to sit down and sort through the demands of discipleship. He is asking us to weigh the consequences of choosing a different way of life that he is modeling for us. The current way of life is consumed with possessions. We possess the things we purchase. We think we can possess people by seeking to control spouse, children, parents, etc. Life is something we assume that can be owned. In the end, we are possessed by things we think we control. This we call life. However, Jesus is telling us to give up possessions.
Jesus is inviting us to a different way of life called discipleship. Jesus is personally on his way to Jerusalem where he will find a cross in his future. The cross meant death for him in this world’s terms but to the glory of the Father, Jesus was raised to life in God’s terms. Jesus is telling us we must also take up the cross if we are to find life in God’s terms as well.
Will this cause a scowl as the phone is put down? Absolutely. Will there be division in the family over priorities? Of course. Is the coach going to be angry? You bet. Are you going to reconsider job and career goals? Very likely. Are you going to examine how you participate and support the ways that bring about injustice or violence to others or creation? For sure. How about ‘hating’ the ways of this world to know life as God gives — this is the cost that must be considered.
Jesus’ words are harsh to hear regarding the cost of discipleship. Yet to take up the cross is to discover family and life in a whole new way — God’s terms. For this, we must all weigh the cost.