Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to different cultures and experience a kind of shopping where prices are not on display. I ask in the local language, “How much does this cost?” The shopkeeper states a price, and then the haggling begins. I say the price is too high and walk away; the seller then comes after me with a lower price, and we barter back and forth until we finally agree on a price. “A bargain!” we each believe.

When it comes to the cost of being a disciple of Jesus, however, there is no bargaining over the price. Jesus wants us to consider whether we are willing to put him first in all aspects of our lives. In this passage from Luke, the word hate is hyperbole. Jesus doesn’t mean that we are to dislike or be hostile to the people in our families. Rather, he is emphasizing that our love and devotion to him must take priority over our love and devotion to those closest to us. Otherwise, when choosing between God's will and our own, we will say no to Jesus and yes to ourselves.

Jesus is strong and plainspoken about what it means to follow him. He doesn’t hide anything from his potential followers. One who takes up a cross knows that the cost of discipleship could well be crucifixion. To follow Jesus, then, means to die to self. But dying ultimately brings new life in the giving up of self-serving, competing loyalties.

How do I loosen my grasp on those possessions and comforts that challenge my relationship with Jesus?

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 14:25-33

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Lectionary Week
August 29–September 4, 2022
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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