In this week’s gospel reading, Jesus is traveling, accompanied by large crowds.  People are drawn by his miraculous feeding, his healings, and his teachings.  Well, at least some of his teachings – other teachings, like this week’s, are not exactly appealing.  This week, Jesus uses hyperbole to help his listeners (including you and me) to realize that being a disciple of Jesus is not all healing and abundant bread.  Jesus talks about hating family members, carrying a cross, counting the cost, and giving up all possessions.

I don’t believe we have to hate the people closest to us in order to follow Jesus, but I am certain that at times, Jesus’ priorities of love, forgiveness, compassion, justice, and inclusion will result in conflict with family members, power structures, friends, and the wider community’s expectations.  There are costs to the life of hope and transformation that Jesus brings.

This week’s passage reminds us that there are competing priorities and values all around us.  We must stop and look at who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to impact the world around us.  Then we consider what actions and choices are consistent with the values and priorities that will guide our lives in that direction.  Mind you, this is a life-long process.  It is never finished.  It is not easy to push back against the people who matter to us when they don’t understand our choices or priorities.  It is not easy to deal with critique or judgement from other people around us.   It is not easy to give up options or opportunities that other people seem to relish. 

Following Jesus is no guarantee for a simple or easy life.  However, along the way we can find a kind of abundance, a depth of meaning, a true connection with ourselves and the people around us and God growing from the love of God.  That is certainly worth the cost. 



weekly prayer | Jesus teaching in Luke 14

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