When any other religious leader asks for such commitment, most of us assume that the person is self-absorbed and dangerous.
But for those who believe that the words of Luke 14:26 were spoken by no less than the Vine of the Spirit (John 15:1-3); our Creator enfleshed among us (John 1:1-3) (John 1:14); the God of the pillar of smoke and fire that led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Exo 13:21); and the exalted King of the vision that caused a man who was calling out judgment on others to say “Woe is me for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa 6:5); we are left with a different challenge: Now we have to decide what we are going to do with such beliefs. Can we afford to act on the thought that only by worshiping Christ above all else will we able to care for one another with the love that has its source in him?
But this isn’t only a question about love. It’s also a matter of peace and safety.
There’s a parallel passage over in Matthew 6:24 that sounds very similar to Luke 14:26. It follows a strange word picture that Jesus used to make it clear that the attention of our heart will either fill us with light or with darkness (Matt 6:22-23).
But then look what follows. Jesus immediately goes on to show his followers how to live a day at a time, without, worrying, and in such a way as to let him provide for us—as only he can. Seems to me that Jesus was asking his disciples to follow him a day at a time, the way he had earlier required Israel to follow the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness (Num 9:15-22).
Now the wilderness was a dangerous place– as is our present environment. And most of us could probably admit that on occasion the thought of giving our full attention to Jesus has felt like jumping from a 10 story window.
But in our more reflective moments we recall a history that says different. All who are reading this have access to the Bible. And many of us can say from experience, “Up until now the LORD has helped us” (1Sam 7:12).
So what do we have– “dangerous words for a safe place” or “safe words for a dangerous place”? All depends on how you look at it doesn’t it…