Thoughts on Luke 14:25-26.
I am so thankful for the love of God. I am so thankful that as spiritually wretched, poor, blind, and naked I was, the love of God sent Christ to die while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8). The third verse of the old hymn, The Love of God, is incredibly true...
"Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky"
That song was written in 1917 by Frederick Lehman, and it still rings true today. In fact, Mercy Me did it on their album called Spoken For, and it's great.
We could swim in the deep, deep waters of the love of God and never find its end. We could sweat and toil to hike every square inch of the mountainous love of God and never find its peak. The love of God for us in Christ is so precious. I remember, as a teenager, hearing an evangelist quote John 3:16 and afterward, he said, "Now, put your name in there...let's say it out loud." The whole congregation began "For God so loved the world...", and at the appropriate times, we entered our names. It was a reminder of God's love for individuals.
Now, none of what I have written seems to remotely correspond with Luke 14:25-26. In fact, it seems quite the opposite. Don't we get into the habit of talking about "the positives" of following Jesus...and then "the negatives". You know, the benefits are peace, joy, forgiveness, eternal life, etc., etc. The cost is holiness, picking up your cross, forsaking everything else, etc., etc.
Now, I agree that there is a cost to discipleship, but I think we dismiss it too easily, and we think of it wrongly. First, we cannot dismiss the cost...I'll insert my name in Luke 14:26, and I dare you to do the same - "If [Toby] comes to Me, and does not hate [Harold, his dad] and [Stephanie, his mom] and [Susan] and [Caleb, Austin, Emilie Grace, and Georgia] and [Andy and Jeremy] and [Christie], yes, and even [Toby's] own life, [Toby] cannot be My disciple." We could have kept going...to talk about taking up [Toby's] cross (v. 27) or giving up all of [Toby's] possessions (v. 33). However, you get the picture. Maybe you're thinking, "That's personal...lighten up...can we get back to the love theme?"
Don't you see? This is the very essence of love. Hating father, mother, brother, sister, wife, and children...taking up our cross...giving up all our possessions...it is the very death of the old me. The old me considered nothing more important than family, a good salary, a nice 401k, a comfortable lifestyle, and my health. The love of God cries out to that incomplete, superficial, selfish, idolatrous person and says, "Come to me, all who are weary...and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-30). "Unless you likewise repent, you will perish" (Luke 13:3).
The greatest treasure in the universe is Jesus Christ, and unless we repent of treasuring family, possessions, and even our own lives over Christ, we will not be saved. But the love of God has invaded the time-space continuum that we might be saved. Somehow, for the one who knows Christ, he can love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5) and hate her in comparison to treasuring Christ. A child can honor father and mother (Ex. 20:12) and hate father and mother in comparison to treasuring Christ.
It seems paradoxical, but the Christian life is just that...save your life, and you'll lose it. Lose your life for My sake, Jesus said, and you'll save it. The man who hates his wife when compared to the way he loves His Lord is the greatest lover his wife. The child who hates father and mother when compared to the way she loves the Lord gives the greatest honor to father and mother. That may need to roll around in your mind for just a minute...it does mine.
The first verse of that hymn begins..."The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell." My friend, leave every other love, and with reckless abandon, live in the love of God.