Luke 14:25-33 (online here)

There are lots of people who associate Jesus with conservative family values.

I guess they haven’t been reading the Gospels.

In today’s lesson Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

So much for family values.

It sounds pretty harsh. It also doesn’t sound much like “love your neighbor as yourself,” which we know Jesus solidly endorses. Aren’t family members neighbors too? Or does anybody think Jesus hated his own mother Mary, or his brother James?

So what’s he getting at here?

He’s addressing the fact that many of his followers had already been disowned by their families. He’s warning them that this is only the beginning of the rejection they’re likely to suffer. He’s saying, “If you’re not ready for that, if you’re not ready to lose everything you took for granted, maybe you should do something else.”

It’s still true today that if you take loving your neighbor as far as Jesus took it—loving outcasts, immigrants, refugees, traitors, even enemies—you might lose everything you took for granted.

Some people will hate you.

Family members might disown you.

That doesn’t always happen, but it still happens too often.

Jesus asks if we’re ready for that.

Are we?