1. THE WAY OF SURRENDERED AWARENESS
I don't think discipleship passages like this advocates hatred of others or hatred of selves. To clarify things, here is an alternative translation: Anyone who wants be my follower, must love me far more than he does his father, mother, wife, children, yes, more than his own life (v. 26, LB).
Here is the point: we are not to literally hate everyone else for the sake of loving God, but for every relationship we value; for everything that we possess in life to be under the Lordship of Christ.
Christ the center, Christ the priority, Christ the Lord.
Discipleship is denying ourselves of what is wrong, not because we hate ourselves, but because we want the joy of choosing what is right. We deny ourselves of judgment, so we can love our enemies. We deny ourselves of more, so we can have the delight of contentment. These are the things that we are to surrender, and in return, we will experience true life.
2. A LIFESTYLE OF CARRYING CROSSES
Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me." In other translation it says: "Carry your cross daily."
Meaning there is a cross that we are called to carry everyday. This cross can mean our calling, or our obligations. Crosses of different sizes and different weights. Crosses that tell each and every of our unique stories: And they not only tell us who we are-they tell us whose we are--that we belong to Christ.
And so may we not be ashamed of the crosses we bear on our shoulders. May we not carry them in regret, but in appreciation. And may we not envy other people's crosses, but may we celebrate the beauty of our own cross.
3. A SENSE OF WISE EXPETANCY
Jesus narrated two parables. First, was the case of a man who started building a tower without setting a realistic budget. And then the story of a king whose men are outnumbered in the battlefield.
In the context of discipleship, I believe Jesus is reminding us to expect challenges along the way.
Because the call to discipleship, always make us fired-up-the first day, the first week, the first year. Then the first occasion something goes wrong, people start blaming God or questioning their call. My paraphrase version: In this life of discipleship, when you experienced your first "fail," don't get frustrated.
For every great dream, there will be oppositions.
For every passion, there will be cold water along the way.
The desire for integrity will be met by bigger temptations.
Every exciting call to discipleship comes with a corresponding force of discouragement.
When we have this sense of wise expectancy that there are challenges ahead, we won't get easily disheartened. Or even when we fall, we can bounce back, get back on track, better, wiser, ready for another round. And with every crash, or fall, or flop, or whack...
our emotional muscle is getting stronger,
our mind is getting wiser,
our perspective is getting clearer,
our countenance is getting nearer to the likeness of Christ.
Because after everything is said and done, discipleship is simply this: our daily experiences that are transforming us into the likeness of Christ. Christ love, Christ strength, Christ generosity, to a small degree or another--reflected in our words, our deeds, our lives. Amen.