Whom Do You Love?
Jesus has told his disciples that many won’t respond to the gospel message, that they shall experience persecution because they are his followers, and that the Father loves them and will see them through. The next several verses close out our Lord’s instructions to his disciples before they left on their first preaching tour – and they are all about love – the disciples’ love, that is. Jesus had already established that the Father loved them. Now the question is asked, “Do you love the Father’s Son more than anyone else?”
And this is a crucial question, because if we don’t, then how shall we stand when the trial comes? Paul said himself, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “One will scarcely die for a righteous person” (Romans 5:7). But how does one stand the forfeiture of one’s property, the legal taking away of one’s child for not wanting them to attend government schools or even criticizing the curriculum therein (I know of this happening in western European socialist countries), and, if it comes down to it, prison, and even death? The only way is if the one for whom you are sacrificing everything is the one whom you love and adore above everyone else.
Our Lord paints no rosy future for his disciples; indeed, it is even frightful. He is aware that the gospel can even divide the most sacred of all earthly institutions – the family: son against father, mother against daughter, brother against sister, and the list could go on. Even now our brothers and sisters in Christ in Muslim and Communist countries must read their Bibles in secret for fear that family members may turn them in, or turn them out with no place to go. Jesus plainly says, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” and “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” These people literally live these verses.
If this doesn’t overthrow the “American Dream,” nothing will. I am called to lose my life for the gospel, to take up my cross daily and follow Jesus. I am not called “to live life to its fullest,” or “to follow my dreams.” That is what I like to call, “Disney theology.” I am called to lay down my life: my besetting sins, my desires that are not holy and just, my dreams and visions of personal glory, and if necessary, loved ones, for the sake of Christ (I do NOT mean divorce [1 Corinthians 7:12-16]). We follow a crucified and risen Lord; we must expect the same. Crucifixion is harrowing, but it’s the only way to resurrection. It was our Lord’s way, and if we are his disciples, it must become ours as well.