WHAT does it take to follow Jesus?
Jesus, in the gospel last Sunday and this Sunday as taken from the 10th chapter of the Book of Matthew, mentions that among others, to follow Jesus is to love him above all, to fear no one except him, and to endure hardships for his sake.
He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28). He also said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (v. 37-38).
We ask, “Why such a tall order?” Because God is God. To treat him less than what he deserves is to make him less of a God.
To love another person or thing more than we love God is to make that subject or object our true god, that is, our idol. To fear anyone more than we fear God is to make that someone the real master of our lives, and to love God without any willingness to sacrifice is mere lip service.
These should not be misinterpreted. Jesus is not teaching us not to love our family or fellowmen. Neither is he instructing us to be irreverent to human authority, or to seek senseless suffering. He definitely wants us to love our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, relatives, friends and even the unlovable. He expects us to respect people tasked to lead us, and as a good father, delights to see us, his children, enjoy the good life. What he simply tells us is that in pursuing all of these, God takes the first priority in our lives.
Is God being selfish in demanding this? No, not at all. God cannot be outdone in generosity. As we seek him with all our heart, he just becomes too eager to soak us with his blessings. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).
As we follow Jesus, he will surely take care of our needs. He is not too busy to know them all, for he has a perfect knowledge of us. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he said. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father (Matthew 10:30).” Even the hairs of our head are all counted (v. 31).