January 29, 2018 Luke 14:25-35
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
MEDITATION: Jesus’ words are often challenging, but sometimes they are exceptionally so. Why on earth should we hate our parents, spouses, siblings, or children as Jesus counsels his disciples to do in this passage? Many translations title this section “The Cost of Discipleship,” which is also the English title of a deservedly famous book by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” (Bonhoeffer was put to death in Nazi Germany for participating in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler, to which he felt compelled despite his pacifism.) This call, which Jesus places on his disciples, is the call to put Christ’s vision of the Kingdom of God above all else. It is only this context that can begin to make sense of the language of hatred in this passage. As followers of Christ we, like Abraham, are called to sacrifice even that which is dearest to us for the sake of pursuing divine justice and mercy in the world. Jesus is warning his disciples that even the good things in our lives can become obstacles to discipleship, and that the way of Jesus is not always easy or comfortable.
FOR DISCUSSION: What do you make of Bonhoeffer’s quote? Do you agree or disagree? How can the good things in life become a distraction to your pursuit of God’s will in the world?
LINKS/OTHER RESOURCES: The magazine Christianity Today offers short biographies of influential Christian leaders and theologians on their website. Learn more about the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer here.