Loving Others More
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26 (NIV UK)
Often editors put a subtitle in this section of the book of Luke to do with the cost of being a disciple. It’s understandable because there are the ideas of not building a tower unless you can afford it, and of carrying your cross for the sake of Jesus. These can sound like the costs of commitment.
The leading scripture also suggests the idea of giving something up in order to follow Christ. Commentators sometimes explain this passage in terms of comparative love: in other words, when we compare the depth of love we have for families and friends to the love we have for God, we should love God more. Although I understand this, it still leaves me slightly uneasy. Is God really so jealous that he demands we love others less than we love him?
I like CS Lewis’ comment in this regard: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased” (from Letters of CS Lewis). The thought is that, as a result of our prioritizing God in our lives, we come to love others more because God’s unfailing love flows through us to them. It’s not a contest. It’s not a comparison that diminishes our love for those close to us.
Are there complementary ways of looking at the tower and the cross verses? Perhaps there are. God’s salvation tower is not something we can afford to build by ourselves through our own efforts, but, if God builds the tower for us and in us, our salvation is secure. If Jesus takes up and carries the burden of our cross with us (which he does), then we have denied self-reliance and have every hope as we rest in him.
Of course there are consequences of following Jesus, and we describe them as the costs of commitment. Jesus, however, takes on all the costs, and he has redeemed us. In accepting what Jesus has done for us, everything else in our life is put into perspective and our inter-personal relationships improve.
Thank you, Father, for Jesus who has done everything for us and continues to serve us still to this day. Thank you that, as we follow him, he keeps us secure and that his love flows through us to others. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.