Whenever something ‘good’ is discovered, mankind usually attempts to recreate and mass produce it in large volumes. Obviously, this creates problems. The quest for money & power is usually involved somewhere in the process. Farming and crop production is an eye opening picture of this.
Organically, most crops require a certain environment and season in which to grow. This is not typically a problem unless one wants to mass produce crops. The limited seasons and locations in which some crops can be grown make ‘mass production’ impossible. As a result, mankind has learned how to genetically mutilate the DNA of these crops to enable them to crow in many seasons and environments that are not typically natural for these crops. While this might not seem like a big deal, it is. Let me give you one example, among many.
In their organic state, most crops naturally produce substances that keep insects away from the crops. After most crops are genetically mutilated, however, they no longer are able to naturally produce substances that keep insects away. As a result, artificial pesticides need to be created chemically to compensate. These once unnecessary poisonous substances are now sprayed over crops to protect them from insects. These poisonous chemicals are also ingested by those who eat these crops.
Without getting into too much detail, there is ample evidence of the destructive affects these chemicals are having on the human body. Many diseases and disorders have been linked to these chemicals, but that is another subject for another day. The enormous amount of money that is made in the mass production of crops and pesticides keeps this destructive practice going. Because of mankind’s desire to mass produce and make money, that which was once designed to bring life and health (in its proper context) now brings death. This is a great example of what also occurs in the religious system.
In mankind’s religious system, whenever you see the masses flock to something, it’s usually an ominous sign. Due to the common evangelical mindset, however, mass numerical activity is a sign of divine blessing or sanction. Much time and attention is devoted to discovering the process of how to create or foster rapidly multiplying movements. Jesus demonstrated something quite different, however.
Jesus had the unique ability to see through all the external religious hype that people typically love. When the masses seemed to get excited about Him, He would usually say or do something that would expose reality and force them to rethink their decision to join Him.
For example, when the masses were getting excited about Jesus, He told them something that many of us today still don’t want to think about. Here is what He said:
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26, NASB)
Wow. Some translations also say ‘despise’. Understand that He was speaking to a culture that valued ‘family’ more than anything else. He singled everyone out. To come to Him is to despise:
- Our fathers and mothers.
- Our spouse. (Yes, they’re included in this list too.)
- Our children. (Yes, despite the fact that Jesus loves the little children)
- Our earthly brothers and sisters.
- Our own lives. (Your identity rooted in your skills, your career, your economic status, etc…)
I guarantee you that thinned out the crowds in Jesus’ day. When it’s properly understood today, it still does. Unfortunately, this passage has been misused by religious clerics throughout the years to guilt people into being unduly devoted to building their own religious ‘machines’, so to speak. Jesus did not make this statement to cause others to experience guilt or to get them to become religious ‘network marketers‘, however. Although many sermons and books are falsely written about the ‘radical‘ self denial that must occur in order to follow Jesus, the heart of what Jesus meant by ‘despising’ family was quite different.
The heart of ‘despising’ your own family
Jesus came to set people free, not to burden them with unbearable guilt. It’s very important that we understand His heart behind such statements.
After all, what kind of a child could despise their own parents without experiencing unbearable guilt?
What kind of a parent could despise their own children and not experience extreme guilt?
What kind of spouse could despise the love of their life and not feel guilt?
These are great questions. I’d like to take the liberty to paraphrase Luke 14:26 in a way that I think communicates the heart of what Jesus is saying. Bear with me:
I know you love your parents. They have taken good care of you throughout your life, and you want to please them and help them. I simply want you to know that in my kingdom (in Christ), you don’t have to worry about them anymore. The same can be said for your own children. You are free from the obligation of ‘saving’ and ‘protecting’ them. In my kingdom (in Christ), I will handle that and take good care of them. Trust me. I can now become your sole focus.
In the past, you have thought of your brothers or sisters a certain way. For some of you, you love them very much. You have been deeply connected to them, or have desired to be close to them. This is simply a shadow. In my kingdom (in Christ), I have new brothers and sisters for you that will be a million times more like ‘family’ than your brothers and sisters in the flesh could ever be to you. You have no idea how ‘unfulfilling’ your earthly family actually is until you experience my love with your new brothers and sisters.
I know that you love your spouse. There is a ‘romantic’ ideal that you have worked hard to attain and live up to. You have fantasized about the perfect spouse and marriage. I want to replace your ‘romantic’ ideal about marital bliss with something greater, however. I have a romantic love for you that will make the picture I created about this love seem like a simple picture. I have a greater and higher romantic love for you altogether. I am giving you access to this love right now. This love will put your spouse in their proper place in your life. This might seem unnerving to you at first, but this is the norm in my kingdom (in Christ). (Luke 14:26, my paraphrase)
In mankind’s religious system, Luke 14:26 is like pesticide. It removes the ‘insects’ that take away the people’s attention and devotion. It enables mass production (numerical growth) to occur through the utilization of guilt. You know what, it works. For a while. These kinds of messages sell many books about being ‘radical‘ for Christ. These kind of messages pack out ‘discipleship’ conferences, and produce mega-institutions. Like pesticides, however, they also produce disease and death.
When Luke 14:26 is properly understood in light of the New Covenant, however, it points to a whole new liberating reality. This new liberating reality (in Christ) is so different from the ways of mankind, few are able to see and desire this over the natural order of things. This is why life in Christ is not marketable to the masses, but is readily available for you. In His kingdom (in Christ), pesticides are not needed.