A Committed Disciple Is Committed To Christ Above All Things
“And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever does not bear his Cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” —Luke 14:25-27
In these verses, the beloved physician gives an account of what Christ said when it came to discipleship.
We must remember that these are the words of Christ, our Lord, and because they are His words, we must understand that they are not to be taken lightly. He began this discourse by declaring to those who were following Him that if they truly desired to be His disciples, then there was going to be some requirements.
He stated first that nothing can take the place of Christ—not family, friends, or possessions. Nothing is to take the place of our relationship with Christ.
Now, when we see the word hate here, it does not refer to having a strong feeling of dislike toward somebody. Rather it means “to prefer,” or “to love less.” It speaks of the dearest affections of the human heart. George Williams said, “The nearest affections are the strongest, but no affection, however strong, must be permitted to compete or displace Christ.” Every Christian should heed these words because it can be extremely easy to put something ahead of our love for Christ. As Christians, anytime that we put anything ahead of Christ, it is viewed by God as idolatry, plain and simple.
Putting Things Before God
According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, the word idolatry means “the excessive reverence for or devotion to a person or thing.” This simple definition spells out the idea that we can make anything an idol by our excessive devotion to it, whatever it may be. We can allow sports, relationships, or even money to become idols in our lives. Anything that becomes more important than our relationship with God is an idol.
Now, we must ask this question: Are sports, relationships, jobs, money, and the like, wrong? No, they are not wrong in and of themselves. However, it becomes wrong when those things become more important to us than the Lord. If a person truly loves the Lord, then those things that we have mentioned, and much more, will always be put in their acceptable place. Nothing can have preeminence over Christ, and everything must be in its proper place.
Luke records an example that I believe describes what we are trying to explain, and it is found in Luke 9:57-58: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow You whithersoever You go. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has not where to lay His head.”
Let’s stop right here for just a moment and discuss what the Lord is saying here. According to Matthew 8:19, this man was a scribe and was looked at by the people as a pastor of Israel. He had seen the miracles performed by Christ, and he had heard the crowd proclaiming His praises, but this scribe failed to consider the cost of following Christ. When Christ responded as he did in these verses, He was actually stating that His kingdom was not of this earth. This meant that His kingdom would not overthrow Rome, which His disciples hoped would happen. They were thinking that they would have some sort of position in this new kingdom, but these words by Christ erased that thought completely. In other words, there is a price to pay for following Christ, and to do so, we must abandon the idea of self-promotion or self-reliance. It must be completely of Christ or none at all.
As we continue reading, we see Christ being approached by a man who was a disciple, as stated by Scripture. Luke 9:59 states, “And He said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” Christ responded by telling this man, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Lk. 9:60).
This man was saying that his father was near death, and he requested permission to take care of his father until he passed on. This means that this man allowed the cares of life to rob him of being with Christ. Many would take the response of Christ as being somewhat crass, but in no way was it meant to be such. By the Saviour’s response, He was, in effect, saying, “Let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.” In other words, those who do not follow after Christ are spiritually dead, and at the same time, others are available to handle the needs of those who are truly following after Christ. This is by no means showing any disrespect toward the dead, but it is rather speaking of priorities. The words, “Follow Me,” are the greatest words of invitation ever given, and yet, this man said that he couldn’t. Christ must come first above all things.
No Man Looking Back Is Fit For The Kingdom Of God
The last and final example is found further down in Luke 9:61: “And another also said, Lord, I will follow You; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” This is yet another scenario where the unpredictability of life can interfere with our relationship with Christ.
In the third man’s response, we hear him saying that Christ’s call was just like everything else in life, and that He must stand in line with everything else. I want you to read carefully the words of our Lord: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). These words are strong, and we should take notice of them. Those who are more interested in everyday life will ultimately allow those things to keep them from following the Lord.
In all of this, what I’m trying to convey is that when it comes to Christ and our relationship with Him, nothing should stand in that path. Our relationship with Him must be priority number one. Attachment to Jesus Christ and to His work should be, and must be, unrestricted. We must allow nothing to come between our soul and our Saviour, and, likewise, nothing should take the place of our relationship with Christ, no matter what it is.
Nothing is more important than our walk with the Lord. If we are allowing something to obstruct our walk with the Lord, then whatever it is must be put to the side, or even abandoned all together. Christ demands a total commitment from us, not a partial commitment. He requires a total allegiance to Him and His work, with everything else falling by the wayside.
Let me give you an example from my life. When I was 17 years of age and nearly finished with my senior year of high school, I remember receiving several offers from different colleges regarding the continuation of my basketball journey to the next level. From the time that I could remember, around middle school, this was my dream—to play college basketball.
I remember walking toward the high school office, where my mom was working as the main secretary of our school, Family Christian Academy. I said a little prayer underneath my breath and asked the Lord about my next step. I told Him that if my playing at the next level was not in His will, then I wanted Him to shut every door.
Before I continue, I should tell you that my number one priority in life at that time was to play basketball. I lived it. I breathed it. I dreamed it. I played it. I wore a shirt that read, “Basketball Is Life.” I was determined to do whatever I needed to do and to sacrifice whatever I needed to sacrifice in order to realize that dream. But, wouldn’t you know that the very moment I prayed that prayer, the Lord began to close every door, which left me totally dependent on Him.
I gave no thought about what else I would do because all I wanted was to pursue a basketball career. The Lord knew that basketball was becoming a priority over my relationship with Christ, and He began to close every door. This left me totally clinging to Him. It would be through prayer that God would call me to the ministry. In fact, I knew all along that this was what I was supposed to do; I just didn’t want to do it. However, the Lord had a way of getting my attention.
Let nothing stand in the way of your pursuit of God. If things, people, or possessions are hindering your relationship with God, then it’s best to lay them aside and concentrate on Christ.