Discipleship and the Idols of Family and Culture

Stephen Um | June 9, 2011

Much has been written about the cost of discipleship. Even more has been said. And yet, as often as we hear about all that Jesus demands of us as his disciples, we cannot avoid being set off balance when we run into a difficult passage like Luke 14:26-27, 33:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Who doesn’t bristle under the sharp language of hate, cross bearing, and renunciation? It seems to cut against everything that makes us who we are. Indeed, it does.

So what is Jesus up to in this passage? Is he really suggesting that we should “hate” our families, and even ourselves, with all that such a stance would entail? On the one hand, we must obviously say “no.” After all, Jesus is the one who perfectly fulfilled the commandment to love your neighbor

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