Separation and Reunion

Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. [Luke 14:34-35 ESV]

Being covered by Christ’s blood does not mean all are guaranteed salvation just as being included in the sin of Adam does not mean all are finally separated from God. Adam’s sin did separate all from God but not all are finally separated. Christ’s blood does cover all with righteousness but not all are finally covered. It is the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit which guarantees eternal life. Rejecting the command of the Holy Spirit to eat from the tree of life, which is Christ, is the deciding point.

Separation is always an act of violence.

Jesus uses the phrase “salt is good” a third time in Luke 14. Each time He uses this phrase, in Matthew, Mark and here in Luke, He precedes it with violent imagery. In Matthew He precedes the illustration of salt and light with suffering for righteousness’ sake. In Mark 9 he precedes the phrase with an exaggerated response to our own sin, the need to cut off or out anything which would compromise righteousness. Here, in Luke, Jesus states what is necessary to follow Him. He demands we detach from the emotional bonds of the world and cling to Him.

Detach from the emotional bonds of personal relationships.

Approach life like you are ready to die.

Lose everything.

Jesus does not make following Him easy but the most difficult thing a person will do.

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. … So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:25-26, 33 ESV]

Turning to those following Him Jesus commanded they do the impossible. Surely this man who lived God’s love for the people is not really asking us to hate? How can someone who is right with God hate anyone? Does He not say we are to honor our parents, to love them? Are we not commanded to love our neighbors? To love ourselves? Surely, He does not mean to hate the way the world means to hate?

“Hate” means to detest, or by extension, to love less. He means us to hate in the same way we are to cut off whatever causes us to sin. Jesus is using violent hyperbole to describe the attitude necessary to truly follow Him. He wants to know if we love anyone, even ourselves, more than we love Him. Do we love Him more than anything else?

While instructing His disciples just before sending them out to preach to the towns and villages of Galilee, Jesus gave them authority to do miracles, told them who they should stay with, and explained how they would be received. They would suffer for righteousness’ sake.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 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 his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. [Matthew 10:34-40 ESV]

Jesus is exclusive. He created us for Himself first and then for others. He did not create us so we would be the center but He the center. There can be only one center.

He gives us the love we need to love those who are unlovable. It is not we are to hate as the world hates but to abandon. Making Him the center, which is His rightful place, does not compromise anything but instead sets it right. Where relationships are bent, idolatrous, spiritually unhealthy, He changes the person and the relationship changes. Our love is His love in us under His control. We cannot love Him, or anyone, in our own strength. When we try, and fail, we show our sin. Those around us, when they demand we love them exclusively, when they try to emotionally control us, become a cause of sin and must be excised, like the hand or foot or eye which causes sin. Being a citizen of the kingdom of heaven demands we see life as eternal and value what God values, conforming ourselves to His image and will.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

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