In the Great Commission, Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. But what does it mean to make disciples? And more to the point, what exactly is a disciple?
As I have stated before, every disciple is a Christian, but not every Christian is necessarily a disciple. So, before I can make disciples, I have to be sure that I myself am one, because it takes one to make one.
In Luke 14, Jesus laid out His requirements for discipleship. Let’s look at one of them here: The disciple must love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26 nkjv).
I know that statement sounds shocking to us today. We ask, “Is Jesus really asking me to hate my family members to follow Him?” In the light of the New Testament, we see that Jesus was not demanding an unqualified hatred. He could not command us to honor our fathers and mothers and then also demand that we hate them.
He could not command husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, and then advise them to hate them. He could not tell His followers to love their enemies and hate them at the same time.
The fact is that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and love one another as Christ has loved us. That is what Scripture teaches. So what gives with this statement about hating father, mother, wife, children, etc.?
Jesus was using the method of sharp contrasts, essentially saying that your love for God must be so strong—so intense—that all other loves would be like hatred in comparison.
Another way to say it would be, “If you want to really be My disciple, and live your Christian life to its fullest, you must love Me more than anyone or anything else!” You must love God more than your career or your possessions. You must love God more than your friends. You must love God even more than your family!
You might say, “My marriage is the most important thing in my life! My wife/husband is my number-one priority!” As noble as that sounds, it is the wrong number-one priority. Marriage is important, but it should not be the most important thing in your life.
Jesus should be.
The fact is that when you make Jesus the center of your life, you will be a better spouse.
Others might say, “Our children are the center of our life!” Listen, Jesus should be the center of your life! In fact, if you want to ruin your children, make them the center of your life. The best thing we can do for our children is to show them how to make Jesus the center of their lives because He is the center of yours.
That’s what a disciple does.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.