Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 5 August 21:
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…. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
These words from Jesus can be confusing, perhaps shocking. How can God, who issues the second greatest commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” turn around and tell us we must hate our father and mother?
To understand this statement from Jesus, we need to first review the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” The foundation of all other commandments rests on this one commandment. Before we break any other commandment, we have broken the first commandment. Not only is Jesus the Logos, the Light, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, He is also Love, the Vine upon which branches must be connected to fulfill its purpose, to have any life or love, and to bear fruit. Eternal life is knowing Him (John 17:3). To love is to abide in His love; obedience to Him is our natural response to love, and His chief command to us is to love others as a product of His love.
Our ability to love others is fully dependent on the quality of our love for God. God is love, and to know Him is to love Him; without God there is no love, only artificial, powerless substitutes. We don’t create love but rather radiate or transfer love from the Source, Jesus – “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) The greater we love God, the more we can love others, which God commands us to do in our response to His love – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11, 12) What Jesus is saying in today’s verses is that to truly be His disciple, your love for Him must be so great it makes your love for anyone or anything else seem like hate in comparison – if you don’t put Jesus first, you cannot love anyone else as you should. If you don’t put Jesus, who is Life, first, you cannot live the life of joy God intended for you, and if you don’t follow Jesus who is the Way, you only lead others astray.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 August 21: Today, abide in God’s love, and let His love shine from you to others. Love God by loving others in His Name.