By Jon Kauffman
Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14: 26, 27 NIV
The death and resurrection of Jesus provided us with the way of salvation.
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most attested facts in history. Why do I believe Jesus rose from the dead? Many of Jesus’ 12 original disciples died because they were followers of Jesus. Peter, Philip and Bartholomew were crucified upside down, James, Son of Alphaeus was stoned to death, James, Son of Zebedee was beheaded by sword, and Thomas was killed with a pine spear.
These guys were all there when Jesus died. They saw Jesus dead. Jesus came to see them after he rose from the dead. If the resurrection was a lie, they would have been unwilling to die for Jesus. Following Jesus provided no wealth or power for them. If they knew that Jesus had not risen from the dead, then when threatened with torture and death, they would say, “No! No! Don’t kill me, I know where to find the body of Jesus.” But the body was gone. They knew he had risen from the dead. Some people die for a lie if they don’t know it’s a lie. Nobody dies for what they know is a lie. These guys had good logical reasons to be followers of Jesus… and to die for him.
More Christians were killed in the 20th century because they followed Jesus than were killed at any other time in history. Christians have continued to die for following Jesus in the 21st century. In 2016, 90,000 Christians died around the world from persecution. Early Christians would have considered the death of someone killed by Boko Haram or ISIS for following Jesus a glorious death.
Eusebius of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD wrote in On The Martyrs In Palestine “THOSE Holy Martyrs of God, who loved our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and God supreme and sovereign of all, more than themselves and their own lives, who were dragged forward to the conflict for the sake of religion, and rendered glorious by the martyrdom of confession, who preferred a horrible death to a temporary life, and were crowned with all the victories of virtue, and offered to the Most High and supreme God the glory of their wonderful victory, because they had their conversation in heaven, and walked with him who gave victory to their testimony, also offered up glory, and honor, and majesty to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”
American civil religion worships the American Sniper. Who has died a more glorious death? A nonviolent Christian victim of Boko Haram from Nigeria? Or the American Sniper?
The church in America is dying. One of the most dangerous places to be a Christian today is in Iran. The Iranian church is the fastest growing church in the world.
Returning to Luke 14, in verse 26, the Greek miséō is translated: hate.
3404 miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another. Strong’s Concordance.
Many who believe that it is proper for a Christian to participate in the military argue that we must do so because of our responsibility to obey the state.
Perhaps a better hierarchy of love that is more consistent with Luke 14 would be:
- Love Jesus and obey his commands. Members of the early church were quick to die for Jesus.
- Love our families and our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping to provide protection and support for those living in the US and in other countries around the world.
- Love those who do not yet know the saving power of Jesus, but are our potential brothers and sisters.
- Love our own lives.
- Love the state. When it does not contradict the above. That makes the state a very low priority.
We must be pro-life and speak out against the pro-death state, and its evil support of abortion, euthanasia and bad foreign policy.
Copyright © 2017 by Jon Kauffman Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.